18 Feb 2009

Local authorities need to prepare for energy crisis

This is a brilliant report! Loads of ideas, best practice, facts and all specifically tailored to local government. http://www.odac-info.org/

Photo: view of Randwick last year

The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC) has prepared this new report for local government in the UK called 'Preparing for Peak Oil: Local Authorities and the Energy Crisis.' Get a copy and start quoting it at meetings, lobby your councillors and more!

From the report: "Global oil production is approaching a peak, followed by a permanent decline. It will radically change the way our societies are run: our transport systems, how we produce food, where we work and live....There are a great many things that councils must do, and policies that need to be changed, if we are to have any chance of mitigating the economic effects of peak oil. On the plus side, some of these initiatives already exist (recycling, road pricing, etc.) but these efforts need to be significantly expanded, and there remain entire areas of policy that have yet to be addressed... "

All this is good news and shows awareness of this issue is raising - even the Local Government Association (LGA) is increasingly on board. It published a report last month, 'Creating Green Jobs: developing local low-carbon economies', which includes warnings on peak oil - see below. What isn't necessarily grasped yet, including by the Green Party, is that the timescale may be so tight that it demands a wholesale review of reams of policy. The LGA also issued a report last month entitled ‘Volatile Times: transport, climate change and the price of oil' - download and read more here about that.

Quote from report: "This revolution [in energy use and supply] will also be driven by volatile and rising fossil fuel costs and concern about fuel security, particularly if oil production peaks. As oil and gas prices increase, the economic incentives to develop low-carbon goods and services intensify....There will be impacts on existing sectors - forestry and agriculture, construction and refurbishment, travel and tourism, distribution and logistics....There is a growing awareness of the risks associated with dependence on imported fossil fuels and the threat posed by peak oil. As we write there is a stand-off between Russia and Ukraine that has cut off gas supplies to many countries in Europe."

For me I need to think how best this can be made to impact most on Council policies - have already sent to the Transition Stroud Business and Government Group - and as regular blog readers will know it is an issue I've raised many times at Council meetings. Stroud still has a long way to go but at least now, as a result of work by that group and others, the Council has a Think Tank raising these issues - this is streets ahead of other Councils - another way to go is like Somerset County Council who last year voted unanimously to endorse a motion that they become the UK’s first ‘Transition Local Authority’.

What is means is that SCC could start taking an integrated approach to its planning processes, putting peak oil and climate change at the heart of its forward planning. It may well also unlock funds for the many Transition initiatives emerging across Somerset. See more here.

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