Plans to drive down carbon emissions approved by Oxfordshire County Council

Action to tackle climate change in Oxfordshire is set to increase over the next three years as the county aims for a net zero carbon future.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet has approved plans which could see its own corporate carbon emissions almost halved by 2024/25.

The authority produced 10,774 tonnes of CO2 in 2020/21, but measures outlined in its carbon management plan could see this cut to 6,000 tonnes within three years.

Councillor Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “I’m delighted at the dedication and skill of our small climate team and how far we’ve come in a year. As an organisation, we’re continuing as an exemplar in reducing our own direct emissions, but now also driving forward to decarbonise our supply chains and taking a lead on work with partners and other organisations to extend this work across the whole of Oxfordshire.”

Cabinet also approved the climate action programme delivery plan for 2022/23 aimed at decarbonising the authority’s estate and operations by 2030, and transitioning Oxfordshire as a county to net zero ahead of the national target of 2050.

Measures include increasing active travel – walking and cycling –  improving electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, supporting households in fuel poverty to increase energy efficiency and reduce bills, and encouraging behavioural change among businesses and residents.

The delivery plan also looks at adapting and improving resilience to extreme weather events, increasing biodiversity, and developing a nature recovery strategy.

One of the main projects to cut emissions is the conversion of Oxfordshire’s streetlights to low-energy LED lighting. Nearly half have so far been changed as part of a £40 million project which will save council taxpayers £77m over a 20-year period.

Other ways in which the council is helping Oxfordshire become net zero and tackle climate change include:

  • Shaping a net zero transport system through the new Local Transport and Connectivity Plan.
  • Investing in public transport to bring 159 electric buses to Oxfordshire.
  • Installing EV charging points in council car parks for residents without off-road parking.
  • Piloting a zero emissions zone in Oxford city centre.
  • Supporting more than 100 community-led climate action groups, the largest network of its kind in the UK.
  • Helping residents recycle and compost 59.5 per cent of all household waste – top place in England for eight years in a row.
  • Trialling hydrogen technology to power fire engines.
  • Partnering with councils, universities, community, and private sector to create a smart clean energy system through Local Energy Oxfordshire.

Cllr Sudbury added: “The Climate Change Committee’s recent risk assessment tells us that we need to move with alacrity to protect our citizens, organisations and businesses from the dangerous and accelerating impacts of climate change in our own country, and from its global effects as they impact on us and the supply chains we rely on for our basic needs.

“That will be our priority for the next year, and we will be looking to involve as many individuals, groups and organisations as we can in this critical task.”

Another key tool in the council’s plans is the Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxford (PAZCO) document, which is being developed as a countywide decarbonisation roadmap. The report was jointly funded by the council, alongside partners in local government, academia, and business, to outline different potential pathways to achieving a zero-carbon economy in Oxfordshire by 2050, with milestones for 2030.

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