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Carbon descent planning

  • by JW

Evolving from looking at ‘energy descent’ to considering ‘carbon descent’.


The Transition Town movement was founded 15 years ago largely on the notion of ‘peak oil’ – and the need for an ‘energy descent’ from an over-reliance on fossil fuels:

Energy descent refers to retraction of oil use after the peak oil availability or voluntary energy use reductions in response to the global climate crisis. Planning and preparing for the peak oil energy descent period has been recently promoted by David HolmgrenRob Hopkins of the Transition Towns movement, and Richard Heinberg in the 2004 book Power down. Many who have planned and prepared for peak oil now see the climate crisis as an equally important—or greater—near term concern as compared with energy resource scarcity brought about by peak oil.

By now there is the critique that it should not be ‘energy descent’ but ‘carbon descent’:

Some techno-optimists, such as Julian Simon, have disputed energy projections such as this, arguing that as oil becomes more expensive, humanity will tend to diversify its energy sources away from a reliance on oil, thus avoiding undesired global reductions in energy usage.

Indeed, today, even councils and universities are looking at ‘carbon descent planning’ – from Tunbridge Wells to the University of Exeter. And the likes of Lancashire Council have set out a clear map for putting together their Energy Descent Plan.

Would such a tool help Devon town, district and county councils work out how to make that descent from an over-reliance on fossil fuels?