Local Peak Oil Resilience Strategies

From an interesting overview of local initiatives by Daniel Lerch. Go to the original article for the links to the examples.

Daniel Lerch:

“Here are just a few examples of the ways that cities are building resilience holistically, whether in response to peak oil or simply as part of an ingrained sense of sustainability:

Peak Oil Task Forces

Starting with San Francisco in April 2006, more than ten local governments in the United States have set up an official task force or committee on peak oil to identify local vulnerabilities and make recommendations for local responses. The model for many of these efforts has been the Portland (Oregon) Peak Oil Task Force, the recommendations of which included establishing a goal of reducing community-wide oil consumption by 50% over 25 years, supporting land use patterns that reduce transportation needs, and expanding local food production and processing.

Peak oil task forces have been established in communities large and small, liberal and conservative. Spokane, in rural eastern Washington, was the first U.S. city to establish a task force addressing both peak oil and global warming. The Canadian cities of Burnaby, British Columbia, and Hamilton, Ontario, have conducted internal reports, and further afield, the cities of Bristol (UK) and Brisbane (Australia) have established peak oil task forces of their own.

Transportation and Land Use

Many cities in Western Europe are known for their pedestrian environment, their efficient public transport or their bicycle infrastructure. Freiburg, in southwestern Germany, has long been recognized for a comprehensive approach to transportation and land use that goes far beyond mere regulations. Decades ago, the city closed off downtown streets to cars and widened them to make way for streetcars and pedestrians. More recently, the local government partnered with a community group to redevelop an old army barracks into a 4,700-inhabitant energy-efficient and car-free neighborhood.

Local Energy

The towns of Güssing in Austria and Växjö in Sweden have recently won accolades for their innovative approaches to developing local energy sources. Växjö has reduced its CO2 emissions 30% below 1993 levels largely by building a 100 MW plant that also supplies over 90% of the town with heating and hot water – all from wood chip waste salvaged from the local timber industry. For its part, Güssing has cut its CO2 levels over 90% from 1995 levels by reinventing itself as a hub for renewable energy innovation. Thanks to investing early and providing both government leadership and support for the local energy industry, Güssing is now home to 50 companies producing energy and fuels from all manner of renewable sources.

In just the last few years, an exciting new systems-oriented model for urban planning has made its way to the United States. The eco-municipality model, which arose in Sweden in the 1980s, brings the system sustainability framework of The Natural Step and a priority for public involvement to community planning processes. It’s only one of a handful of such approaches, however. If we are to truly build the resilience of all our communities against the coming changes in the global oil supply, urban planners and policymakers will need to turn aggressively to more systems-informed approaches to community governance and development.”

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