Welcome to Transition Lewisham

Background

In a nutshell, the Transition Movement is about communities deciding they can’t hang around for governments to act on climate change and peak oil, but they need to start building up local resilience to prepare for an era of ever-rising fuel prices, fuel shortages and the impacts of climate change. The activities they get involved in are varied, but might range from insulating homes, setting up community allotments, establishing a local renewable energy company to establishing their own local currency to encourage people to shop locally.St Saviours -mini

Transition Lewisham, part of the Transition Town network, is a group of volunteers aiming to start a wide community response to the challenges of climate change and peak oil. We will endevour to encourage sustainable communities within the borough and provides advice on how to achieve them.

The Transition Towns movement is growing rapidly. Having started out in Kinsale, Ireland and Totnes, just a few years ago, there are now more than 100 initiatives around the globe, with many more in the process of setting themselves up.

This website will feature a number of links to these groups. GET INVOLVED

Sustainable Communities Act

Local folk in Brockley, (as well as Ladywell, Sydenham, and New Cross) are aiming to create a more sustainable community by reducing carbon emissions and developing the growing of food within the area in order to meet the challenge of global warming and the imminent end of cheap oil (to get in touch subscribe to the Transition Brockley group at http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/transitionbrockley/). We want to take the opportunity offered under the Sustainable Communities Act (SCA) to put forward proposals to facilitate this process.

The SCA was enacted in October 2007 following a campaign by Local Works (www.localworks.org and www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk), a coalition of some 90 national organisations (including charities, environmental groups, businesses and trade unions, amongst many others). It provides for a system of governance where local communities and their councils can drive central government policy and action on reversing community decline and promoting local sustainability. The proposal must need central government action, such as a change in the law or the transfer of responsibility from one public body to another. Under the SCA, the government has a duty to “reach agreement” regarding the proposals rather than carry out a meaningless consultation exercise. The Act clearly provides that the local authority should give consideration to the issues of food and greenhouse gas emissions referred to above.

The timetable for the submission of proposals is as follows:
26 June 2009 – Deadline for the submission of proposals to the council.
The council and the Mayor consider the proposals to sift out any which do not require government legislation. A panel of representatives of local people is chosen who decide from the residual list which proposals should be submitted to the Local Government Association (LGA). The council (Lewisham Strategic Partnership) is currently considering how the panel will be chosen and this will probably be done, although to be confirmed, by taking a random sample of citizens from the street with the offer of some financial compensation. The panel will probably consist of 15-20 people. They have not yet decided whether they would co-opt a member of our group to the panel to explain the background to the proposals, but it is thought that there would be councillors at hand to advise on the background to the proposals. As this is new legislation, both government and councils are feeling their way. The council promised to let me know how they intend to proceed once this is decided.

31 July 2009 – Shortlist of proposals submitted to the LGA, following which a final shortlist of proposals is sent to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who will reach agreement with the LGA on the proposals to be implemented.

This is all new territory but it seems like a great chance to getTransition Town ideas over to the council and see what happens. My feeling is that Lewisham council and the citizens panel will be sympathetic to the issues involved. On this basis, a list of proposals has been drawn up (and attached) after a review of those produced by Transition Town York and those listed in the very helpful individual Guidance Sheets available from Local Works on how to use the Act to protect the environment, to promote energy efficiency, local energy and local food.

The wording may need tweaking and some of the proposals may already be within the powers of the council, in which case those become local lobbying issues rather than a change in government legislation, but this will be clarified by the council. We are not required to be experts in legislation, local or otherwise.

Anyone can submit a proposal whether as an individual or on behalf of an organisation, but it will carry more weight if it has support of the local community. We have nothing to lose (apart from my time) but could gain quite a lot from submitting the proposals.

What are your thoughts?    Read the full proposal here

NEWS UPDATE

The only proposal (out of a total of 50 from various sources) to be taken forward for the Local Government Association to consider, was one of Transition Brockley’s proposals – “To increase the funding under the Low Carbon Building Programme by a significant amount” (watered down from the original amount of �1 billion requested). This is a fantastic achievement for us as a fledgling group and much praise must go to Fran who drafted out the proposals. We’ll keep you updated on any new developments.

You can keep us with all the daily goings on by joining the Transition Lewisham Yahoo Group here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/transitionlewisham/

What is CO2?

CO2 is the chemical symbol for carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases are the gases present in the Earth’s atmosphere that stop heat escaping into space, keeping the planet warm enough for life. CO2 is probably the most significant of the greenhouse gases as it accounts for the largest proportion of the ‘trace gases’ in the atmosphere. It is thought that it’s been in the atmosphere for over 4 billion of the Earth’s 4.6 billion year geological history.

How is it created?
Atmospheric CO2 comes from a number of natural sources, mainly the decay of plants, volcanic eruptions and as a waste product of animal respiration. It is removed from the atmosphere by dissolving in water (especially the surface of oceans) and through photosynthesis in plants. This is when plants use light energy, CO2, and H2O to make sugar. The amount of CO2 taken out of the atmosphere is almost perfectly balanced with the amount put back into the atmosphere by respiration and decay. Small changes as a result of human activities can have a large impact on this delicate balance.

Why have CO2 levels increased over the last two hundred years?
Nobody knows for certain, but it is generally believed that an increase in the use of fossil fuels is responsible. Since the Industrial Revolution we have burnt fossil fuels to provide our light, heat and to run our cars. The trouble is that when we burn fossil fuels, we release CO2 into the atmosphere. This has resulted in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increasing by more than 30%. The best case scenario for the increase in CO2 emissions predicts that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will reach double the level of before the Industrial Revolution, in 2100. The worst case scenario brings this forward to 2045.

What happens if there is too much carbon in the atmosphere?
If there is too much CO2 in the atmosphere it increases the “greenhouse effect”, trapping heat that would normally escape into the atmosphere. This causes the planet to heat up, which is believed to be the cause of climate change. Climate change is widely predicted to have a devastating impact upon the planet and people around the world.

What is your carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases we produce. It is measured in units of CO2. The average person’s carbon footprint in the UK is 9,400 kg, that’s nearly nine and half tonnes!

Take a look at our Energy Saving Tips section to find out how YOU could reduce your carbon footprint and save money.