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Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire

The Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire report was created in 2021 by the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, alongside leading sustainability organisation Bioregional and backed by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP). The report challenges Oxfordshire’s key decision makers to embrace a number of new recommendations, aimed at supporting the county’s drive towards a zero-carbon future. The report has highlighted several pathways for the county to achieve a zero-carbon economy by 2050. Oxfordshire local Authorities have agreed a target of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030, against a 2008 baseline.

Conclusions and recommendations

  • the expansion of solar generating capacity in Oxfordshire,
  • a major programme of retrofit for existing homes and non-domestic buildings,
  • prioritising climate goals when planning for new homes and developments,
  • substantial increases in electricity demand, driven by heat and transport, requiring grid reinforcement and flexibility provided by various means,
  • the phase out of gas boilers and fossil-fuelled modes of transport,
  • a need for innovation in food production to maintain or increase output while agricultural land makes way for development, and Oxfordshire grows its fair share of biofuels, protection and restoration of ecosystems and natural capital, for enhanced sequestration and increased biodiversity.

Suggested text for your letter or email to Councillors.

We are asking you to represent our concerns to the Council about the South Oxfordshire Plan 2041. Our chief concern is that this plan still has the objective of growth, over-development and house-building, rather than having as its objectives the implementation of the Pathways to Zero Carbon recommendations. The South Oxfordshire Plan cannot be considered valid unless it is reworked to implement these. In particular, what is being done now to enable the expansion of solar generating capacity and to initiate a major programme of retrofit for existing homes and non-domestic buildings?  

Please take every opportunity to vote for changes in the South Oxfordshire Plans 2041 until these vital changes of direction are made. I hope you will feel that your constituents are solidly behind you in taking such action!

And please be very critical of the excess number of new homes being forced on Oxfordshire by Central Government and especially those implemented by developers in inappropriate places under the Government’s 5 year Land Supply policy. How can we, as your constituents, encourage you, our local Councillors, to face down this bullying by Whitehall?

Click here on how to contact Councillors;

More about the Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire Report

The 2021 report places a spotlight on the challenges ahead in transforming the county’s energy and transport systems, as well as the need to upgrade Oxfordshire’s building stock and use of land for carbon sequestration. It identifies areas where change and investment is urgently needed. Separate chapters within the report focus on themes including; innovation, transport, buildings and heating, renewable energy, and land use. The report highlights the successful deployment of solar energy in Oxfordshire and calls for an expansion of up to 10 times current levels. However, the authors also point to sectors where progress on reducing emissions has been slow, including energy efficiency and renewable heating in buildings and in the transport sector. They predict that the rapid uptake of electric vehicles in the next decade will help to reduce carbon emissions and dirty air, but emphasise the need for behavioural changes and infrastructure investment to drive uptake of active travel, shared mobility and home working.

Professor Nick Eyre – from the Environmental Change Institute stated: “This report makes clear that there are different possible routes to achieving a zero-carbon economy over the next three decades, depending on the types of technological and social change we decide to pursue. What is clear though is that transformative change will be needed in the ways in which we use and generate energy; design and use transport systems, and plan our use of land.”

This report addresses the question of how Oxfordshire can sustain the momentum of the last decade to achieve net-zero emissions. While substantial progress has been made to decouple economic growth from carbon emissions, driven by cleaner electricity supply and increased energy efficiency, there remains a significant way to go to decarbonise transport, reduce reliance on fossil fuels for heating, and protect and enhance carbon stored in the natural environment. Maintaining the same rate of emissions reduction in Oxfordshire will require relatively greater investment locally, in building retrofit, cleaner heating systems and electric vehicles; and cultural and behavioural changes such as active travel, dietary changes and reduced energy demand.

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