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PaulS's picture

Friends of the Earth v. Transition Movement

Here is a note from Martin Cullen, Friends of the Earth, Supporter Information Team.

He draws a reasonable distinction between FotE and T, except that I would argue that Transition is active in both of his two methods - example would our involvement with the Cornwall Council.

Here it is:

With regard to your question about Transition Town (TT) movement , we know that there is a hunger from a large number of people to see changes in their communities, their towns and their cities in response to the grave threat that climate change presents (and this is one of the reasons we plan to launch a 'low carbon communities campaign'). These people want to see wind turbines, energy efficiency, solar panels, less car use and changes in consumption habits. There are at least two responses to this desire:

· Seek political change so that decision-makers from local to global give climate change the urgency it demands and get the solutions in place.

· Give-up on politicians and politics and instead achieve change through voluntary measures by individuals, businesses and communities.

Very crudely put, Friends of the Earth's response (its new Get Serious About CO2 campaign) is focussed on the former whereas Transition Towns and some other initiatives are focussed on the latter.

Friends of the Earth is focussed primarily on political change because we believe it has the greatest potential to make the biggest change most quickly. This was of course the rationale for The Big Ask and The Climate Change Bill. For example: the Government can change the rules so that renewables are built and coal-fired power stations are closed down; our Local Authorities can choose to direct local transport spending to cycle-ways and buses as opposed to new roads; and local authorities can offer free insulation to people suffering from fuel poverty.

This is not to belittle voluntary action. Voluntary action is an essential part of societal change. And the energy, enthusiasm and innovation that transition towns and other similar movements are creating can send powerful signals to politicians - especially if given the additional focus and direction which our campaign will provide .

Friends of the Earth wants to capture some of this innovation, energy and enthusiasm to build a much bigger campaign for political action now to create 'low carbon communities'. We hope this will compliment the voluntary action by others and provide a campaign home for those people
that think that politics matters. Some FOE local groups and individuals are already involved in TT networks. Furthermore, we're keen to engage TT groups in the Get Serious About CO2 campaign, and we encourage local groups to contact their local TT to seek their support for the campaign, both for formal endorsement and for individuals to sign our campaign
postcards. Finally, I would point out that the science over the last 12 months has added strongly to our understanding of the urgency of securing rapid cuts in CO2 emissions, and whilst individually initiated action can contribute, we don't see it delivering change on the scale and speed required.

Best wishes

Martin Cullen
Friends of the Earth
Supporter Information Team