Transition Towns

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Introduction to Transition Initiatives by Rob Hopkins

The Transition Movement started in Totnes (in Devon) in 2006 and has since spread to dozens of communities throughout the UK and abroad. The Wirral group (which has a focus in West Kirby) got going in the autumn of 2007. Since then groups in Liverpool-South ( and Chester have been founded.


The abundance of cheap oil could not be any more central to the Western lifestyle: it is used for heat, light, agriculture, transport, manufacturing, plastics, clothing, medicine and more. It has been the driving factor behind population growth and food production. As the rate of consumption outstrips the rate of discovery, sooner or later demand will exceed supply, which will result in rapid price increases. It now seems that this point has been reached. The consequences are likely to be wide reaching.

Added to this, the effects of climate change are being felt much sooner than anticipated. The latest report from the IPCC said that said it was "very unlikely" that average temperature rise could be limited to 2C. This means runaway climate change is going to be even harder to avoid, and billions will be at risk from droughts, floods & hunger.

In response to these twin pressures of declining oil supplies and Climate Change, some pioneering communities (mainly in the UK and Ireland) are taking an inclusive approach to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their ability to withstand the fundamental shift that will accompany the end of cheap oil. These communities have become known as 'Transition Towns' - indicating a transition away from reliance on fossil fuel energy.

What's a Transition Town?

Transition Town groups recognise four things:
  • Firstly, that life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable, and that its better to plan for it rather than be taken by surprise.
  • Second, that our communities currently lack the resilience to handle the severe energy shocks that declining fossil fuel supplies will bring.
  • Third, that we have to act for ourselves and we have to act now.
  • And lastly, that by using the creativity of the local community to adapt to reduced fossil fuel energy, we can build ways of living that are more connected, more enriching and that recognise the limits of our planet.

Examples of solutions adopted by Transition Towns so far include localisation of resources, re-skilling the community and improved cooperation between businesses. Many of these have been found to have multiple advantages such as saving money and better social cohesion. However there are no right or wrong answers, rather the community tailors ideas to suit the local area. Totnes in Devon has been at the forefront of these developments and you can read more at:

A start was been made at establishing the Transition movement on the Wirral at a workshop for everyone to pool their ideas on planning a positive community response to the challenges ahead. You can read more about these developments on this website.

This is a chance for all of us to help build a more resilient, self-reliant community that is less vulnerable to external issues such as energy or food shortages, or market fluctuations.

The thinking behind transition initiatives is not new, but the focus is. It is no longer about how we can save the planet, but how we can save ourselves. Energy descent has been compared to the problem of accessing a beach. Do we run full-pelt over the cliff edge and wait for the crash or do we find an alternative route that can get us there more gradually and safely?

Transition Links

Transition Town Projects - other transition town groups

Transition Town Culture - Rob Hopkins' blog

Other Rob Hopkins' YouTube presentations
click here