Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Transition Burnt Oak? Why not!

In inverse proportion, it seems, as world leaders fail to act against catastrophic climate change, Transition Town mania is gripping the UK. I recently joined Transition Belsize - I can get there on the Northern Line. Tonight in the foyer of Kilburn's Tricycle Theatre I met some people well on their way to founding Transition Brent.

This movement began in the more likely setting of Totnes, Devon and is an increasingly global movement. You can find out more about Transition Towns (and villages/cities/forests/islands) here.

The basic idea is:
A Transition Initiative is a community... working together to look Peak Oil [the end of cheap oil] and Climate Change squarely in the eye and address this BIG question:

"for all those aspects of life that this 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)?"
For an idea of what a Transition Initiative does, take a look at Transition Belsize's meetup page.

You won't be surprised to learn that this is a very middle-class movement. This is a strength - it is well-resourced. But it raises the question of how far this movement can reach into the wider population, therefore, of how much effect it can have. Could there ever be a Transition Burnt Oak, for example? For it really to grow, I think this movement will have to address what environmentalists tend to call 'social justice issues' - what I call, class issues!

The main item of local news in Kent where I've been for a week is the government's decision not to build a new nuclear power station (they have two already!) at Dungeness, largely for environmental reasons: it's a special habitat for wildlife. Most of the local people are clamouring for a new nuclear power station to be built in the area because it will mean jobs. It's a topsy-turvy world, all right.

I am involved with a campaign called Workers' Climate Action. It champions the far from revolutionary idea that we need a "just" transition to a low-carbon economy. That is, a transition which recognises the fundamental fact that most people in this society need to work in order to live. Dismantling polluting industries should go hand in hand with creating new 'green' jobs, and ordinary working-class people should have control over the process.

Otherwise, it just isn't going to happen!

So maybe Burnt Oak is not ready to be a Transition Town just yet, but just maybe it is ready to be a Just Transition Town.

No comments: