Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire

Photo by Simon Godfrey on Unsplash

Tackling climate change has become an urgent priority for governments, businesses and citizens around the world. In 2019, the UK Parliament passed legislation committing to a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In response, local authorities around the country have been scaling up their ambitions to tackle climate change. In Oxfordshire, all local authorities have acknowledged and responded to the climate emergency, and are developing plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner.

A consortium of local stakeholders, including Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and all six local authorities asked the ECI to investigate how the county can eradicate carbon emissions from its economy.

Produced in collaboration with Bioregional and colleagues from the Transport Studies Unit and Engineering Department, the Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire report begins by reviewing recent progress on climate goals. It highlights successes in decarbonising electricity and reducing energy demand over the last decade - a period which has seen rapid economic and population growth in the county. It also showcases the considerable sustainability expertise that exists in Oxfordshire, underpinned by a thriving world-class innovation ecosystem.

This report addresses the question of how Oxfordshire can sustain the momentum of the last decade to achieve net-zero emissions. 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.

Our analysis shows that there are different routes to net-zero, and in presenting scenarios for the next three decades, the report outlines three distinct pathways to eradicating emissions from the economy.

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