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Oxford City Council announces £19m climate change emergency budget

Oxford City Council’s Cabinet has responded to the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change, outlining its next steps and allocating £19m to become a Zero Carbon Council and city.

The Council has published a report in response to the Assembly committing to becoming a net zero Council in 2020.

The £19m investment announcement comes in addition to £84m of ongoing investment to tackle the climate emergency in the region. It comprises of £18m of capital investment and an extra £1m in additional operational funding.

A recommendation from the Assembly focused on energy efficient housing, and community building, as well as reducing transport emissions and boosting renewable energy installation, issues that the Council has highlighted in the report as priorities.

The Council will also work to establish a Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership and influence partners and organisations to do more, through a new year summit and collaboration.

Tackling the climate emergency won’t be easy for many people, it will require financial commitment and willingness to change, something the Council has said it will support individuals and communities with.

Councillor Tom Hayes, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford said:

“90% of members of the Oxford Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change wanted us to become sustainable quicker than the legal target nationwide—a very high majority indeed. We’re proud to be the first UK city to hold an Assembly on the issue and thank all of our Assembly Members, drawn from all backgrounds, for coming together to raise differences of opinion, hear each other respectfully, and agree a consensus. 

 “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.

“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 be 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. 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.”

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