A Transition Take on the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan
…………….Overall, I think this is as bold and brave a plan as could be expected given the circumstances under which it was no doubt written. Here is a government approaching an election, having been in charge during a spectacular economic unravelling, with Milliband having to fit within and keep on board a Cabinet obsessed with economic growth (the Mandelson/Brown effect). The brief set for it was to create a low carbon economy in the context of economic growth, in complete contradiction to all the indications to the contrary. I think Milliband is a dynamic young politician who wanted to do something very far-reaching here, but he has had to do so in a very difficult context. Within the context of what he can actually do, I think it is very good. In terms of being a plan that will enable and underpin this country’s inevitable energy descent and relocalisation, it is inadequate.
Praise where it’s due; on the positive side, the Plan takes many decisive steps forward and puts mechanisms in place to ensure that the various Government departments actually carry them through. It is nothing if not ambitious, although its starting assumptions are such that it is designing for a world that will almost certainly not be possible. However, it is, of course, the victim of a degree of inevitable compromises (especially in the farming area) which hamper the effectiveness of such a wide ranging proposal. I do think that as a plan produced by government it is as good as we are likely to get, indeed some parts of it are much better than one might have expected.
From my perspective, it throws the challenge back to Transition groups and others. The Government has set out an unprecedented dedication to the low carbon agenda, and thrown considerable weight behind it. The role of communities is seen as being vital, and encouraged, but the ball is in our court. We often say communities can’t do this on their own, they need Government working to support the low carbon agenda. Now they have gone some way towards that. What is missing from this Plan is the local detail, the stuff that central Government can’t do; the locally owned energy companies, the local food networks, the groundswell of desire for change, what Jeremy Leggett calls the ’scaleable microcosms of hope’. This is what Transition can do, and I feel, having read this report, and having heard Milliband’s endorsements of the Transition Network, that the door to real and deep change feels significantly more open than it did last week.