Where we are and where we will be

Where we are and where we will be
The idea of Edinburgh is a combination of place, soul and symbolic leadership of a nation

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Transition towns, an idea whose time has come

I went to a fascinating and scary meeting this afternoon to discuss the idea of Edinburgh Becoming a Transition city. This is a response to the problem of Peak oil and Climate change which essentially means the combination of when we can no longer produce the oil we need to keep the economy running as it is combined with the need to radically change the levels of carbon produced by our lifestyles.

Peak Oil is when we can no longer produce enough oil to meet our energy demands at a price that we can economically afford. To give you an example of what I mean. When Oil was first drilled commercially in the 1850's, for every unit of energy that was put in to get the oil out, the oil gave 100 units of energy. Now its a 1 to 10 ratio and dropping.

You can read more about Peak oil as an idea here and here and here and transition towns here. You can also read about a Welsh and and English experience of attempting the transition town experience here and here and the wonderful Portobello group PEDAL work here. They will explain this idea much better than I can, suffice to say that this quote from the Transition Towns movement website captures the enormity of the task:

"for all those aspects of life that our community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?"

This is about producing what we need rather than what we want and doing so locally with a very different understanding of what we mean by economically successful.

Politically and culturally it would mean huge change for parties like my own but actually philosophically its much closer to our roots of common ownership and common cause that we perhaps are these day.

It is a truly radical proposal. I know it will take a great deal to get my party on board, but it is only with this kind of thinking and action that we will make the fundamental change we needt is to make to prepare for the consequences of climate change and peak oil. Otherwise our time on this planet may become limited.

I was inspired by not just the message but the insight and commitment of the 60 plus people who gave up their Sunday afternoon to debate this. We’ll be meeting again in January. I will keep you up to speed on progress.


Anonymous said...

What a pity the previous labour administration didnt also listen to the many objections to the Caltongate Masterplan and allow the community's Alternative Strategy to be given equal consideration.
The applications which are to be determined on 6th Feb show the worst examples of excessive and unsustainable development since the St James Centre was developed in the 60's.
2 listed buildings and 18 stonebuilt flats to be demolished and replaced with a concrete and glass hotel and conference complex.
Demolition facts - 8 bricks= 1 gallon of Oil
10% of global CO2emmissions comes from cement production (main ingredient of cement)
The existing gap site could be developed as a zero carbon car free mixed housing scheme and the public land and buildings retained for existing use or revamped to meet the needs of the community

Anonymous said...

The Canongate will be the next transition area.
But will the transition be support for the community by refusing the unsustainable Mountgrange plans and working to develop our community assets for the benefit of our citizens and future generations?
If the plans are approved it will create the most unsustainable,unpopular,and unsympathetic development since the excessive private commercially driven developments of the 60's - St James Centre

Ewan said...

Dear Anonymous (x2 or is this just one of you twice?).

Thanks for taking the time to leave these comments. I have no doubt that we could have done better but we also could have done a lot worse and at some point you need to decide and get on with things. There are a huge number of things being done as part of the Mountgrange proposals that will help towards carbon reduction but I have no doubt more could have been done, but thats true of any proposal . The building standards will need to be to the high levels we set as part of our Building Quality Standards which are the highest in Scotland which will include levels of carbon reduction.


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1st Wed @ Piershill Library, 30 Piershill Terrace.
2nd Wed @ Craigentinny Community Centre, Loaning Rd.
3rd Wed @ Duddingston Primary School, Duddingston Rd.

All 7:15pm -7:45pm

and the last Sat. Lochend YWCA, 198 Restalrig Road South
12noon -1pm

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