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Zero Carbon Oxford Summit: Leaders support 2040 net zero carbon emissions

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Leaders across Oxford support 2040 net zero carbon emissions pledge

Leaders of Oxford’s major businesses and organisations gathered at a virtual Zero Carbon Oxford Summit

The leaders gave their support to the aspiration of achieving net zero carbon emissions as a city by 2040.

Coordinated by Oxford City Council, the group of 21 leaders from the city’s universities, institutions and large businesses have signed the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter, which marks their support for achieving net zero carbon emissions as a city by 2040.

The summit brought together leaders from both City and County Councils, both universities, both hospital trusts, major businesses including BMW, Unipart and LandSec, transport providers, schools and further education colleges, anchored institutions, and other organisations that are strategically important to achieving a net zero city by 2040.

The summit was an opportunity for representatives to showcase their climate plans and action, facilitate conversation about a collective vision, and establish a formal partnership and collaborative approach to tackling the climate crisis.

The Council’s Scientific Adviser, Nick Eyre, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Oxford, addressed the summit confirming that the 2040 net zero date was technically achievable and ambitious for the city. A detailed roadmap to net zero emissions for Oxford has been commissioned and will be published in summer 2021.

Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership

The closing of the summit was marked by the signing of the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter and the creation of a new Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership for the city.

The new Partnership will involve those organisations gathered at the summit, as well as enabling a wider range of stakeholders to play their part in cutting Oxford’s carbon footprint to zero.

By agreeing to join the Partnership, organisations will be supporting an ambition of achieving net zero carbon emissions as a city by 2040.

The new Partnership will provide:

  • a collaborative approach to implementing carbon reduction measures
  • enable partners to share their examples of best practice and learn from each other
  • develop funding bids and attract financial support for the ambitious and innovative projects, which will allow the city to go further and faster in its journey to net zero carbon
  • lobby the UK Government for powers, policy, and funding
  • engage customers, citizens and communities in shared climate action

The Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership replaces the Low Carbon Oxford partnership, which was established a decade ago with an aim to reduce carbon emissions in Oxford by 40% by 2020 by members managing their own carbon footprints – which the city is on course to achieve.

The new Partnership changes the focus from organisations managing their own estates towards collaborative action and using each member’s sphere of influence and knowledge to achieve shared goals and initiatives across the city.

The Partnership will be governed by a Steering Group to provide high-level governance, comprised of key organisations that are strategically important to reducing emissions in the city of Oxford.

Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, said, “It is more important than ever that citizens, organisations, and governments at all levels show leadership to tackle the climate emergency head-on. The City Council has brought together 21 organisations, and while our summit will last for one day, the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership that it launches will work every day to become a net zero city.

“Our joint ambition to become a net zero city by 2040—ten years earlier than the target set by the Government—is a strong sign of the pace and ambition required. It also marks another case of the Council honouring the recommendations of our Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change. With so many people facing unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 economic crisis, the race to 2040 is an opportunity we can’t refuse – to unlock significant sustainable investment in Oxford that benefits our communities with new jobs and skills.”

Professor Nick Eyre, Scientific Adviser to Oxford City Council, said, “Oxford has the expertise to be a leader in the transition away from carbon based energy to a sustainable energy system. The formation of Zero Carbon Oxford shows that key organisations in the city are united in that ambition.”

Next steps

The first meeting of the Zero Carbon Oxford Steering Group will agree the initial actions the Partnership needs to take. Oxford City Council will also work with its Scientific Advisor, Professor Nick Eyre of the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, to develop an initial roadmap for how the whole city will reach net zero emissions by 2040.

The map will include the five-yearly carbon targets for the city that are both achievable and scientifically robust and will be published in summer 2021.

The full list of businesses and organisations that attended the summit and signed the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter were:

  1. University of Oxford
  2. Unipart
  3. Landsec
  4. Oxfordshire County Council
  5. BMW Mini
  6. The Conference of Colleges
  7. Oxford Brookes University
  8. Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  9. Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
  10. Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership – signing of the Charter is subject to Board ratification
  11. Low Carbon Hub
  12. Activate Learning
  13. Beard Construction
  14. Lucy Properties
  15. Nielsen
  16. Oxfam GB
  17. Oxford Bus Company
  18. River Learning Trust
  19. Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN)
  20. Stagecoach in Oxfordshire
  21. Oxford City Council

A2Dominion, a major housing association operating in Oxford, also attended the summit, and a decision on signing the Charter will be taken by its board.

Watch the Zero Carbon Oxford Summit video

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