Two of the toughest challenges facing humankind at the start of the twenty-first century are climate change and peak oil. Currently, both are inappropriately treated as separate issues. By thinking of these issues as independent, Rob Hopkins believes society runs the risk of lowering emissions without accounting for oil vulnerability as energy prices rise. Through the model of Transition Towns, he has created a way to engage people to tackle climate change practically through a solutions-based and action-oriented approach to reducing oil dependency. A Transition Initiative is a community working together to assess what it needs to achieve sustainability, as well as what it can do to drastically reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the economic and environmental repercussions of reaching the peak in available oil supply. This bottom-up, citizen-led process has propelled over 1,000 communities and tens of thousands of people to effect positive environmental change on the local level. Already, their combined efforts are resulting in policy changes as local governments join the movement as Transition Authorities. Further, as more people continue to take part, more demand-side pressure is being placed on environmental technology providers to deliver solutions that reduce carbon emissions while building alternatives to fragile oil supply chains, creating more practical options for citizens and communities.
Hopkins’ approach has established a virtuous circle of incentives that is strengthened with the addition of each new Transition Town. Locally, as more Transition activity develops, communities become more resilient to the negative effects of the onset of peak oil. On a broader level, as the Transition Network develops, it becomes more robust with each new member, able to offer a greater range of solutions and opportunities for action. Through his continued efforts, Rob has integrated two separate problems into a single historic opportunity to call entire communities to action. Through his 12 Steps of Transition, he brings together tools and approaches that communities can use to maximize their chances of success while also utilizing the passion and skills individuals have within their own communities. By addressing climate change on such a local level, Hopkins is working to make it more relevant and vital in community members everyday lives.