Oxford Council have confidently announced their aims to become carbon-neutral by 2030. The local authority are also planning the implementation of the UK’s first Citizens’ Climate Assembly, and hopes to increase its existing £84m climate-related funding with £1m of operational funding and £18m of capital investment.
The Citizens’ Climate Assembly, consisting of 42 members, aims to assist with the new carbon targets and climate mitigation strategies – they are recommending the introduction of new energy efficiency requirements for community buildings and new-build housing; as well as improving local renewable energy installations, investing in biodiversity, and cutting transport emissions.
Tom Hayes, Councillor and Cabinet Member for Zero-Carbon Oxford, said;
“Climate emergency declarations are a phenomenally fantastic way of galvanising attention, particularly if a council has already done a lot in this area. For us, the challenge was identifying what more we can do. It’s an interesting thing to declare. We’re saying we’re going to act unusual and out of the ordinary. It suggests that business as usual is no longer an option. An emergency declaration is valuable because of that and the ability to get people to work together. Oxford is our home and our big goal is to have the leading organisations inspire others to do more but share challenges and take that energy back into their organisations.”
Setting an example
While the Council is responsible for just 1% of Oxford’s CO2, it appreciates the importance of actively setting high targets. While the Council offset purchases with tree-planting schemes across the south-east, their main aim is to reduce actual emissions.
Hayes believes it is essential to lead the way;
“We’re responsible 1% of emissions of the city, we can clean up our own house and have influence over 66% of the city’s emissions through our housing company and direct services firm. We, therefore, have a lot of influence over emission in the city.”
Oxford University initiatives to reduce carbon emissions
The University of Oxford is responsible for around 9% of the city’s emissions and the Councils plans have encouraged them review the construction of buildings to Passivhaus standards.
Improvements in Oxford’s transport system
Transport currently accounts for 16% of the carbon emissions in the City so it’s become a key factor in their initiatives. They pledge that at least a quarter of the council’s vehicles will be electric by 2023 and aim to completely phase out petrol and diesel vehicles from the city centre for a complete zero-emission zone in 2035.
Around 400 electric vehicle (EV) chargers will power new EV capacity. Transport accounts for three-quarters of the nitrogen dioxide pollution in Oxford, and 50 tonnes of CO2 are emitted by road traffic in the city every morning rush hour. However, over the past 10 years, air pollution levels in the city have decreased by more than 36%.
An Energy Superhub will host the world’s first transmission-connected 50MW lithium-ion and redox-flow hybrid battery systems as well as a network of 320 ground-source heat pumps.
An industry-first Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire) is exploring how businesses can interact with local renewable projects, EVs, and battery storage.
Zero-emission zone (ZEZ) buses
All Hackney Carriage Vehicles in Oxford will transition to becoming zero emissions by 2025 and bus companies will move towards zero emissions by 2035 at the latest.
The rise of online deliveries has presented a range of transport challenges but the use of Cargo bikes can help reduce carbon emissions and provided a fun alternative to large vehicles. The implementation of the Cargo bike scheme saved an estimated 30 tons of co2 during 2019.
The ZEZ continues to give businesses the confidence to invest and be much more ambitious.
How businesses can help Oxford to become carbon-neutral
These campaigns require private sector collaboration and participation. The Council has created a network of organisations aiming to reduce emissions by 40% by 2020 against a 2005 baseline.
More than 80% of total emissions derive from the built environment, and this will be a big and costly piece of work in order to reach net-zero emissions.
Reviews are underway looking at the energy efficiency and thermal leakage of affordable housing and office buildings; and retrofits will be necessary to improve the energy ratings of these buildings.
About Excalibre Technologies
Founded in 2007 (a year before the introduction of LEZ), Excalibre Technologies was born with the intention of offering high quality commercial vehicle emission control products and services at a competitive price with customer service at the heart of our operation. Since then Excalibre has grown to become a leading supplier of retrofit solutions and DPF cleaning services in the UK.
We work with several national organisations to help achieve their ecological targets of lowering emissions and ensuring their vehicles are maintained to a high standard using internationally recognised practises and equipment supported by OEMs. We can also supply most aftermarket silencers and catalytic converters.
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