Oxfordshire County Council’s aim of becoming a zero carbon county by 2050 has received a boost with news that a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions was exceeded last year.
The council has cut its own corporate carbon emissions by eight per cent from April 2019 to March 2020, beating its target of six per cent.
The replacement of boilers and streetlighting with more energy efficient models, the installation of solar panels and the purchase of more electric vehicles were all factors in the reduction.
Oxfordshire County Council declared a climate emergency in April 2019 and developed a Climate Action Framework in 2020 to set out how to achieve its net-zero goals.
One of the key projects is the programme to replace the county’s streetlights with highly efficient, environmentally friendly LED (light-emitting diode) alternatives.
Scheduled to take four years to complete, the county council is investing £40m over this period, which also includes upgrading columns and is expected to lead to savings of more than £75m over the next 20 years and this will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being produced by 70 per cent.
Currently, the county’s street lights account for around 7,596 tonnes of CO2 every year, representing nearly 35 per cent of the council’s own operational emissions.
More than 2,800 streetlights were replaced in 2019/20, saving 245,109 kWh of electricity, helping the council to exceed its emissions target for those 12 months.
Commenting, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Yvonne Constance said: “We made a promise last year to put climate action at the heart of everything we do and these figures show we are delivering on that promise. The measures put in place mean 1,132 tonnes of carbon dioxide have been saved from ending up in the atmosphere.
“We are committed to becoming a carbon neutral council by 2030. We are making wide-ranging changes to the way we work and also laying the groundwork for Oxfordshire to go zero carbon by 2050 by delivering infrastructure, forming partnerships for joint action.”
Oxfordshire County Council’s Interim Director of Communities, Jason Russell added: “The decade to 2030 has been called ‘the decade of action’ against climate change.
“While it is true that over the next nine years remaining emissions will become progressively harder to eliminate, we are making substantial progress by taking early action to reduce energy consumption. This will maximise savings and help future-proof our services, assets and investments.”