Transition in Action

“Transition in Action – An Energy Descent Action Plan”, by Transition Town Totnes, 2010, £19.99, 304 pages, ISBN 978-1-900322-85-0. Distributed by Green Books. Also available in an extended version on, which includes news and updates.

Totnes became the first Transition Town and is the first to develop an energy descent action plan (EDAP). Its creation has been community led, with over 500 people involved at some point over a couple of years in some aspects of its development.

Totnes and District has a population of around 24,000 and is based in Devon. The EDAP is very much the result of the inspiration of Rob Hopkins, who has already written and co-authored several books for the transition movement, which now has over 200 local initiatives across the UK and over a hundred across the world.

The purpose of the EDAP is to prepare the community for the two big challenges of our time: how to adapt to a world where oil and gas prices are going to increase dramatically due to demand exceeding production ('peak oil' for short) and how to reduce all our greenhouse gases by 8-100% in the shortest possible time-scale to avoid dangerous climate change?

KA third challenge has also become relevant in the last couple of years: how do we change our economic system so we avoid these costly financial crises and recessions, so we limit the use of the world's limited resources (land, fresh water, minerals, etc)?

Transition Town Totness (TTT) asks what type of society do we want to live in, in 2030 and how do we get there. They are well aware that TTT cannot live in isolation from the rest of the world – that major changes need to happen on a national and international level. However, if communities do not take the lead there is a risk that politicians will not be bold enough to take some very drastic steps – like stopping economic growth and reducing our ability to consume beyond a certain level, including our meat consumption.

The EDAP sets out to answer some difficult questions like can Totnes feed itself (through local production) and produce all its energy through renewables. Totnes does not aim to be self-sufficient but wants to produce as much as possible locally. The aim is to become resilient, to be able to absorb shocks from the outside world – whether it is food shortages or high energy prices. It is better to prepare now than deal with the shocks when they happen.

The TTT EDAP is therefore relevant to other local communities wanting to become more sustainable. It cannot be copied as each locality has different circumstances that need to be taken into account. However, it can be an inspiration for them when drawing up their own plans.