Oxford City Council has outlined a £19m climate emergency budget to help the authority become a zero carbon council in 2020.
The budget, published in response to the Oxford Citizens’ Assembly on climate change, commits over £1m additional operational funding and £18m of capital investment to address the climate emergency.
In January 2019, Oxford City Council declared a climate emergency in Oxford and agreed to create a Citizens’ Assembly to consider new carbon targets and additional measures to reduce emissions.
Over 40 people attended both weekend sessions of the assembly and asked to consider the following: ‘The UK has legislation to reach “net zero” by 2050. Should Oxford be more proactive and seek to achieve “net zero” sooner than 2050?’
Thirty seven out of 41 (90%) of the Assembly Members said ‘yes’.
In response to the assembly’s recommendations, the council aims to raise the energy efficiency of new homes and community buildings, cut transport emissions, boost renewable energy installation, expand biodiversity, and increase public engagement with recycling.
‘We’ve listened to the Assembly and our brand new climate emergency budget acts on its findings by providing at least £18m of new money to the city council’s zero-carbon mission, plus a further £1m of new money to ensure that we deliver on those investments,’ said Cllr Tom Hayes, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford.
‘This new funding is significant in the Council’s budget context to make an immediate impact – because we have to act like there’s a climate emergency if we say there is one. This £19m fighting fund comes on top of £84m of ongoing measures to build a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire, leveraged into the county because of the city council.’
‘The city council accounts for 1% of the city’s carbon emissions. We’ve reduced our emissions by 40% in the last four years, but we have to clean up 100% of that 1% footprint,’ he continued.
‘Among our measures we’re announcing in this budget is our choice to become a net zero carbon council from October 2020. We will buy certified green gas and electricity and offset our remaining carbon emissions through the planting of trees in south-east England because we know the Assembly wanted to enhance biodiversity.
‘To ensure our estate and operations do not contribute to the climate crisis, we will also accelerating the reduction of any underlying emissions.’
‘The measures we are proposing are bold and significant in the context of the city council’s budget and reach,’ he added.
‘We are setting a new course, taking the city towards zero carbon, while ensuring this does not sacrifice residents’ living standards or disadvantage low income households.’