Transition Stroud

This is a shared history blog. Together we can write the history of our process of transition as it happens.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Portland report shows the way forward

Peak Oil Task Force Executive Summary Cover PageThe City of Portland Oregon took the exciting step of setting up a Peak Oil Task Force - the first in the world to do so - their report can be found here:
http://www.portlandonline.com/osd/index.cfm?c=ecije

Now Stroud District has also set up a Task Force - provisional meetings have already taken place (see earlier blog entries) - one Transitioner has ploughed through the Portland Report and pulled out the key headings - it gives a good overview so I've reproduced it below (with several additional comments):

DESCENDING THE OIL PEAK – NAVIGATING THE TRANSITION FROM OIL AND NATURAL GAS; CITY OF PORTLAND PEAK OIL TASK FORCE REPORT

KEY POINTS


Preparing for peak oil:
Access to oil will decline and there are no realistic alternatives in the short term. In such a situation economic theory holds that:
- Long term prices will rise
- Short term prices will be more volatile
- Supplies will become less reliable because even small disturbances will lead to immediate shortages

This could lead to economic collapse and the Portland task force focused on mitigating the likelihood of such a collapse and to provide some ability to respond to such a collapse should one occur.

IMPACTS ON TRANSPORT AND LAND USE
- Automobile use will decline and people will seek alternative transportation for their needs
- People and businesses will relocate to be closer to each other and to transport options; - - - - Population will likely shift to city centre - and density and mixed-use development will increase;
- Transportation of freight will become more costly, likely leading to mode shifts from air and truck to rail and boat
- Air travel may decline significantly
- Maintenance of road infrastructure will be difficult because of loss of revenue and reliance on asphalt.

IMPACTS ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
- The amount and variety of food produced will decrease
- Food will cost more
- Low income households are most vulnerable to higher prices and could see a decline in diet and nutrition
- The kinds of foods produced and processed will shift, introducing business pressures and opportunities for food producers and processors
- Households will experience increased pressure to grow, process and handle their own food
- Food retailing options will shift
- There will be less food waste and changes in packaging

IMPACTS ON BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND JOBS
- Prices will rise and the number of business start ups and failures will increase
- Some businesses will experience significantly higher production and distribution costs; others may be more impacted by changes in demand for their products and services
- Unemployment will likely increase in the short term
- Impacts will vary in intensity by industry and business division
- Portland’s population may grow faster than forecast as a result of in-migration

IMPACTS ON PUBLIC AND SOCIAL SERVICES
- Vulnerable and marginalised populations will grow and will be the first and hardest hit by peak oil (implications for crime etc – JM comment)
- Increasing costs and decreasing incomes will reduce health coverage and further stress the health care system
- Demand for social services will increase, but the ability to provide service will decline
- Heating, maintenance and monthly housing costs will consume a larger share of household budgets and push people towards lower quality housing choices (also reduction in disposable income will affect purchasing power and the wider economy – JM comment)
- Demand for public school services may increase at the same time that costs of maintaining public school facilities increase
- It is unclear whether demand for electricity will increase or decrease; electric loads served by natural gas-fired generation will have to be reduced or replaced by renewable energy;
- First responders, especially police, may become primary service providers as social services struggle to meet demand
- Water, sewer and solid waste services are not expected to be affected significantly (Not necessarily so in other areas - PB)
- Competitive, individualistic responses could erode community spirit and cohesion.

RECOMMENDATIONS – ACT BIG AND ACT NOW
Reduce total oil and natural gas consumption by 50% over the next 25 years
Inform citizens about peak oil and foster community and community-based solutions
Engage business, government and community leaders to initiate planning and policy change
Support land use patterns that reduce transportation needs, promote walkability and provide easy access to services and transportation options
Design infrastructure to promote transportation options and facilitate efficient movement of freight and prevent infrastructure investments that would not be prudent given fuel shortages and higher prices
Encourage energy efficient and renewable transportation choices
Expand building energy-efficiency programmes and incentives for all new and existing structures
Preserve farmland and expand local food production and processing
Identify and promote sustainable business opportunities
Redesign the safety net and protect vulnerable and marginalised populations
Prepare emergency plans for sudden and severe shortages

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Transition Drinks in Nailsworth

Last night saw Transition folk descend on Nailsworth for Transition Drinks - a social evening to chat, debate, network, find out more etc.

We met in the Village Inn which has it's own micro-brewery - and it is very fine beer indeed - infact Camra were also meeting that evening and getting a tour of the brewery. Meanwhile Stroud's micro-brewery - which we've sampled before in previous Transition drinks - has just this week won an award for it's 'Tom Long' - best beer in the South west and Wales! Infact this week has been quite a week of awards - Stroud Farmers Market has won best in the country!

Wottons' new Transition group was set to join us at the drinks last night but send belated apologies - to update - they have now submitted their community food garden proposal plan to the allotments committee a couple of weeks ago and they went to a meeting a week last Tuesday. At the meeting they requested a load more information to take to the Town Council last Monday - they are now awaiting a decision.

Meanwhile our next Transition Drinks looks set to be in new year - details here soon - there may also be a social before Christmas.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Is world oil production peaking?

Last-drop-of-oilRead Lester R. Brown on this here:
www.earthpolicy.org/Updates/2007/Update67.htm

See also local Green party's letter and news release on this issue with links to The Ecologist on this topic:
www.glosgreenparty.org.uk

Transition Totnes

The Daily Telegraph did a recent article on Transition Totnes - see Telegraph article here - apparently British Airways magazine described the town as one of the 10 funkiest places in the world - perhaps they haven't been to Stroud? Our Farmers Market has just been voted best in the country - noting that it's 'unique community experience' and being at the 'leading edge' of everything about farmers markets.

Don't forget Transition Drinks this Wednesday at Village Inn in Nailsworth from 7.30pm- a social for Transition oldtimers and newcomers.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Business and Government Group meet with District Council

On 8 November 2007 the group met with an Officer from Stroud District Council to explore ways forward. Here is some of those discussions:

Update on peak oil reports

Mike did very comprehensive overview of current situation – some key points being:

· In 2030 – 50% less energy than now
· 2 degree rise now thought to be untenable and half a degree more appropriate. So how do we pull carbon down out of the atmosphere?
· Oil already at $100 per barrel – could be $300 in 3 years.
· More important to do things now to reduce carbon, than debate targets for 2050.
· Three very difficult points need communicating – better to save 1% now than say 5% in 5 years time; there is already 40 years ‘lag’ in the system; we tend to think/plan in a linear way, yet we are already experiencing non linear changes.

Other updates on related areas:

· 80% of the homes for 2050 already built. Retrofitting homes estimated to cost circa £25k.
· Planners grappling with approving new homes, as non- vernacular solutions are required for sustainability eg use of non local materials and enabling all homes to be south facing development
· Many business failures linked to rises in energy prices as main reason for failures is tightness of margins – hence energy rises can tip marginal companies over.
· LSP is re writing its community consultation paper – this needs a piece on climate change.
· Could ‘State of the District’ address in March cover climate change/peak oil issues

Update on LSP objectives for Think Tank

The next steps and process for the LSP work was clarified:

· a draft paper to the Think Tank should be out very soon
· In December (14th) Think Tank will take submissions on Land Use and Transportation from SDC, Environment Agency and other well informed bodies. These submissions, along with short extracts from UKCIP, Portland etc will frame consultation activity for all LSP members (start say February – end May/June). While LSP is addressing this topic, Think Tank will start on 2nd topic ie Food and Agriculture, hence starting a rolling parallel programme

Transition Stroud vision of process of engagement

Discussion re importance of using of LSP consultation process to help engagement, understanding and action so the process of producing a report actually helps /encourages LSP members into action, as opposed to just waiting for the report. TTS resources would be available to help facilitate such consultation. Plus:

• Occasional review meetings with District Council. Next one proposed for January.
• Contraction and Convergence – how does it look for Stroud?