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27 Jul 2009

Ed Miliband Muses on his Experience as a ‘Keynote Listener’ at the Transition Network conference

millFollowing UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband’s appearance at the Transition Network conference as a ‘Keynote Listener’, we invited him to write a few words to sum up this thoughts on the experience.  Unfortunately it came in just a day too late to make the latest, and rather wonderful, Transition Network newsletter, (if you don’t get it you can subscribe here), but it is very interesting.  See below;

“Dear Friends

I’ve never been a “keynote listener” before – it’s probably not something that politicians tend to do. So my first experience of it was when I attended the Transition Towns conference and, going table to table to hear what people were discussing, learnt about the movement and what people want me to do in government to help.

I heard how the mission of the Transition Towns movement is not just avoiding disaster but creating a better quality of life and a stronger community. This is an incredibly important message, and if I’m honest, I don’t think that those of us who believe in tackling climate change talk about it enough.

The Transition Towns movement shows our message can be about green hope, not green despair: we can help people shift from cars to bicycles and public transport, not by finger-wagging but by making the low-carbon choice the easy choice, such as through improving bike storage at stations. We can make the argument that the transition to renewable power is not just good for climate change but can hold back a rising dependence on gas imports from abroad. We can show that although people’s bills will rise slightly in 2020, we can help with insulation and cutting energy waste so that the most vulnerable are protected.

I heard as well that many communities want to know what the UK is doing as a country. They feel they are part of a movement across the country, and they want their government to be leading the way. Two weeks ago, I published our economy-wide roadmap – and inspired by what you do, it is called the “UK Low Carbon Transition Plan”.

It shows sector by sector how we will save carbon – some sectors making more savings, some making less where alternatives are harder, but from power to homes to transport, businesses and waste, we now have a detailed plan and know how the total carbon savings will be made. It’s the most detailed, comprehensive and ambitious plan yet, and will mean changes in all of our lives.

The hard work is only beginning. Groups like Transition Towns have shifted the centre of gravity in public opinion; but the biggest job of persuasion still lies ahead. Cleaning up our power supply means winning the argument that the greatest threat to the countryside is not the wind farm, but climate change. Cutting energy waste from homes means persuading neighbours and friends that insulation is the smart choice. Getting the breadth of action needed means winning the argument that every town, every company, and every public service now needs a transition plan of its own.

Putting the plan into action, not just in the next year or so but through the decades, can only be done if committed people around the country continue to persuade people of the need for change. Thank you to all the people I met for taking the time to talk to me, and thank you for continuing to be the vanguard of that persuasion.

Yours,

Ed Miliband

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.

10 Comments

Peter Bralesford
27 Jul 5:16pm

I must admit, you get a much better response from politicians if you sit down and talk with them constructively, than if you throw green custard in their face. ;) Hopefully this is the first of many occasions when Transition elicits good responses from politicians!

Jeremy
27 Jul 5:25pm

Great to see, and nice to be name-checked in the national plan, but Ed has so far only engaged in half of the transition vision: no mention of peak oil anywhere here!

[...] Read the rest on Rob Hopkins’ blog.   [...]

Shane Hughes
28 Jul 6:55am

You here about positive feedback loops in climate changing emissions. I see this is kind of like a positive feedback loop in TT growth. TT’s have earned their current momentum but this kind of recognition will help to bolster the needed continuation of our growth and credibility within our communities.
Shane

Ivan
28 Jul 12:00pm

“we can show that although people’s bills will rise slightly in 2020…..”
Scary stuff.
Has he not been paying bills lately?

JTM
29 Jul 9:38am

Ivan: No we have…

Shane Hughes
8 Aug 4:42pm

When i first read it, i liked the sentence “Groups like Transition Towns have shifted the centre of gravity in public opinion” and just now 10 days later, a specific application of this sentence, has just dawned on me.
For decades the centre of gravity in the “alternative” culture was very much “anti” this and that. People voicing positive solution where often sidelined as not taking a serious approach. Now i feel that the centre of gravity has moved and many, not all, of the alternative culture is shifting towards creating actual alternatives. A creative approach, in the sense of creating the world we want rather than protesting against the world we don’t. Not long ago, back in 2004, some friends and i, set up a series of events called Visions of Another World; you can see an example of 1 of the events here http://www.letslinkuk.net/news/040911-ramparts.htm
The idea was to search out existing examples of projects and solutions that hold within them a glimpse of how a better world would look. However, even with this remit, we found it difficult to fill the events with positive solutions based alternatives, with the majority of people providing content still embedded within a campaign and protest culture. I feel that if we did the same now we do a lot better and i wonder how much TT has contributed to this shift.

Andoni
10 Aug 1:28pm

“Groups like Transition Towns have shifted the centre of gravity in public opinion”
I wish !.
The TT movement is not known by the public opinion/average citizen .
The public opinion is struggling to come to terms with global warming, the real impact it will have during their lifetime ( many believe they will never see it happening in their lives), nevermind peak oil.
How many people know that Mr. Miliband attended the Transition Network conference?How many people know there was ever a Transition Network conference?

Ignorance is bliss, even more when the truth will take Paradise ( and your car ) away from you!.
I am not “rubbishing” the importance of Mr. Miliban’s attendance, I don’t even doubt the sincerity of his words, but I doubt it has even dented the public opinion insensibility/ignorance on the whole peak oil/global warming chapter we are about to face.
We are in the right path, but still far away from the public opinion.

P.D. Apologies. I don’t want to upset people, but I felt I had to add my personal view on this reality.

[...] omission is similar to Ed Miliband’s reaction to being a “keynote listener” at a Transition Conference in July. Take a minute and [...]