Those of us initiating this blog work in a milieu of what is broadly described in academic circles as the sustainable transitions community. Personally I have been impressed with the commitment of researchers in this community to use scholarship to help achieve material advances towards sustainability (in so doing challenging academic hierarchy’s stale focus on KPIs). Whilst in no way celebrating the current emergency, the hope will be that there is a realization that, like a pandemic, no walls can protect a country from the impact of climate change. Perhaps, out of the turmoil into which society has been plunged, bold commitments to better embed society around principles of environmental and societal sustainability may emerge. Just like in the immediate post-war, myths that collective institutions for well being could not be built, simply evaporated. Just like then, a new legitimisation of the role of the state could be a critical leverage point to accelerate transitions. Some ideas are appearing. Nicole Badstuber in her Guardian Column argues that government intervention in the airline industry could be a turning point for transport policy and pivot us to lower future air travel – a necessity given the climate emergency. A new meaning for “restructuring of public services” – for long a pseudonym for painful austerity and running services down to the bone – could become a more meaningful commitment to new policy experimentation of services run on democratic and participative principles. Properly funded regional agencies, largely dismantled by austerity in the UK, could be strengthened and help to re-build areas such as health, urban transport systems and food supply that revitalise local suppliers.
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