Together we will take on the most intractable real-world problems of changing course to a carbon-balanced society. Transition Engineers will guide stakeholders in business, law, policy and community organizations to discover and co-design pathway shift projects with real value and real impact.


Carbon-Balanced Society

The 21st United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) will be held in Paris in December 2015. The Rio Earth Summit was held in 1992, the UN Framework for action was aimed at stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. 195 countries are now parties to that framework. At COP26 members reviewed implementation plans to reduce emission rates to below 1990 levels, to limit total global warming below 2 oC, and to ensure total fossil carbon produced remains below a cumulative 1000 Gt.

The IPCC scenario, RCP2.6, is the only scenario with any likelihood of manageable effects of global warming. The RCP2.6 scenario requires GHG emissions to peak now, and decline to 80% less than the current level by 2050, meaning that at least 4/5 of the economically recoverable oil, coal and gas reserves must not be extracted and burned.

Transition Engineering

People all over the world have been demonstrating for climate action, climate justice, a renewable energy future and an international agreement on climate change targets. Individual consumer choices  are seen as key. However, effective action will 

require engineers to change everything so that everything works, all people have access to the necessities of life and contribute to continuous improvement of their communities and environments through their normal activity systems and lifestyles.

Masterclass InTIME

The masterclass starts with a frame for climate change and other unsustainable practices so that they can be converted into clear relevant requirements. For example, reduction of fossil fuel use by 80% is clearly the Net Zero requirement to address climate change, but it is a problem definition that quickly becomes a “monkey trap”.

The next topic is learning to use a discussion tool for framing up the Wicked Problems of unsustainable, yet successful incumbent systems.  Stakeholders from businesses, government, and community can be brought together and the whole group can move past the things that hang up progress.

The first challenge in this discovery process is to "hit the wall" - meaning to understand that there are no solutions and that business as usual futures are not actually possible. By definition, innovation can't happen if there are already solutions. Wicked problems, by definition have no solution, so we move on.

Transition Innovation and Engineering

The Transition Lab uses a framework for turning a hopeless situation into a creativity state of play. Specific businesses, councils or organizations must bring forward their wicked problems and participate in the brainstorm teams. The participants organize into interest groups, and each group brainstorms and works through to generate their own Transition Brainstorm Concept. You will be inspired by what you can do in a couple of hours if you are focusing on the ideas beyond targets and you have a process to guide your imagination and communication.

New Zealand Transition Lab Workshop 2015

Forty participants worked through the afternoon and evening to develop actionable project briefs. The mission was to come up with one project from each team that all of the members of the team would be excited to work on. The participants included undergraduate engineering students from all disciplines and Environmental Science, and postgraduate students from Law, Policy, Arts and the AEMSLab. Each team also had several professional engineers.

The teams chose areas of critical need for transition: use of oil in transportation, industrial dairy operations, the use of coal to heat university buildings, and the lack of affordable housing, services and cycle infrastructure for students at UC. Transportation by Cycle, University Academic Air Travel reduction by virtual conference technology, The New Student Union Building, New Student Housing Village, and Optimal Land Use Systems Engineering for Agriculture, Water and Forests - All ideas beyond targets and beyond fossil fuels.