"To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing." - Raymond Williams

Stoneleigh’s peak oil/finance talk at the Transition Conference

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 15th, 2010

Goodbye cruel world

This post was originally written by me as a guest post for Rob Hopkins’ Transition Culture blog, but I have kindly given myself permission to reproduce it here 😉

So here I am. I fully intended to be giving the England match my full attention right now, but I’ve been left distinctly restive by this afternoon’s long session by Stoneleigh of The Automatic Earth, and feel the need to put some thoughts down.

Including the extensive Q&A session her talk lasted virtually three hours and covered a lot of ground, starting from a good runthrough of the ‘peak energy’ situation, but quickly focusing in on finance, as she believes that this is the factor that will most dramatically shape our immediate future. Notably, the talk attracted almost half the attendees of the Transition Conference, despite the numerous other Open Space sessions taking place at the same time.

Read more »

Despairing of Ed Miliband, Becoming a Filmstar, and Other Adventures

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 4th, 2009

Shaun Chamberlin
It has been another crazy whirlwind of a month, with this weekend set to be the first in five which I get to spend in Transition Town Home, having spoken recently in Bungay, Glastonbury, Belsize Park and the Forest of Dean, as well at the Transition Conference (I hate that name, can’t we call it a ‘Gathering’ or something?) in Battersea, and at the Sunrise Celebration Festival.

One highlight for me was watching the world première of the movie “In Transition” and being surprised and delighted to find that I was in it (having completely forgotten the quick interview they grabbed with me at my book launch!). Another was meeting an A-Level teacher who is already using my book as a teaching aid for his Environmental Design students.

But perhaps of wider interest was the fact that Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, turned up at the Transition Conference as a ‘keynote listener’, but still managed to drop a few bombshells. Read more »

The Transition Timeline – a closer look

by Shaun Chamberlin on April 15th, 2009

The Transition Timeline - front cover

The last month has been a bit of a blur, with very well-attended book launch events all over Britain, a two-day seminar at the Centre for Alternative Technology scoping out Zero Carbon Britain 2, more radio interviews, and even being caught on film for the first time (more practice required methinks!).

While I’ve been zipping around, a number of people have requested a more detailed write-up on The Transition Timeline than I have so far provided online, so let’s take a closer look. Read more »

Polly Toynbee joins Team TEQs

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 17th, 2008

Polly Toynbee

Last month I attended an Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) meeting called to announce their latest research into personal carbon allowances. Polly Toynbee was invited to chair the meeting, and was clearly impressed with what she heard as she has now written a very positive article about TEQs in her column in the Guardian. In it she reminds us of DEFRA’s description of the scheme as “ahead of its time” and derides the Government’s delay in moving towards implementation.

The IPPR have now joined our challenge to DEFRA’s decision to delay a full feasibility study into TEQs, announcing that their research found that the public are far better disposed towards personal carbon allowances than DEFRA claim, and much prefer the idea to carbon taxation or upstream carbon trading (IPPR’s research took the time to explain the three schemes rather more thoroughly than DEFRA had, which certainly helped on this score).

Social anarchism and non-violent direct action

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 10th, 2008

Collective bridge building

(pic – yesterday’s non-violent direct action at Kingsnorth, courtesy of Indymedia)

I’m back from this year’s Climate Camp, and was deeply impressed with what I found there, both in terms of the organisation of the site (carried out largely by social anarchists) and the attitude and behaviour of the protesters.

The Camp is still running as I write, and I know large numbers of people are remaining to clear the site of all traces of our presence (in line with the request of the landowner), but for me it has been the most enjoyable, inspiring and re-energising of weeks. Judging by the media response I wasn’t alone in this. Read more »

From the Chair of the UK All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 2nd, 2008

In your opinion

My mother pointed out to me that on Saturday Colin Challen MP, Chair of the UK Government’s All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group, had a letter published in the Guardian.

After numerous other eminently sensible suggestions about how the Government should be stepping up its response to climate change he concluded with the following:

“And most urgently we need to recognise that early carbon reductions are the most important step, and that will only happen with rapid behavioural change, which means some form of carbon rationing.

In this last respect, for any minister or potential minister to say the time for personal carbon allowances has not yet come illustrates either deep cynicism, defeatism or complacency, or perhaps a combination of all three.” Read more »

TEQs (downstream) or Cap and Dividend (upstream)?

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 8th, 2008


In the climate policy community there is a growing debate between advocates of ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ carbon caps (dams?). The terms draw an analogy between the flow of water in a stream and the flow of energy through an economy. ‘Upstream’ advocates want to regulate the few dozen fuel and energy companies that bring carbon into the economy, arguing that this is cheaper and simpler than addressing the behaviour of tens of millions of ‘downstream’ consumers.

At first glance this seems a convincing argument, but there is one important regard in which an upstream scheme fails – it does not engage the general populace in the changes required. Read more »