Report, response and next steps
A detailed report on the findings of the Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change, the first of its kind in the UK, has been published.
The report, which has been produced by experts at Ipsos MORI who independently facilitated the Citizens Assembly on behalf of the City Council, summarises its findings and recommendations.
Ipsos MORI’s headline findings were:
- The majority of Assembly members felt that Oxford should aim to achieve ‘net zero’ sooner than 2050. However, even among those who agreed with this, there was little consensus on when ‘net zero’ should be achieved
- There was widespread belief that Oxford should be a leader in tackling the climate crisis
- Assembly Members found a great deal of encouragement in the examples of what is already being done across Oxford to address climate change and meet the goal of becoming ‘net zero’
- Enhanced biodiversity was central to the overall ‘net zero’ vision of Oxford with increased flora and fauna in the city centre, along with more cycling, walking, and public transport, and far fewer cars
- The buildings sector should adopt improved building standards, widespread retrofitting, and more domestic and non-domestic energy needs being met by sustainable sources
- Around one in four to one in three Assembly Members rejected the most ambitious - and, therefore, challenging to achieve - visions of a future Oxford
- They were also perturbed by the extent to which the burden of change was - in their eyes - being placed on individuals
- There was, therefore, a sense that the Council needs to communicate a shared vision and strategy to reaching ‘net zero’ that shows the roles played by local and national government, businesses, and individuals
- Specifically, Assembly Members wanted more information about how to recycle correctly
- There was a demand for more education and information provided for the wider public in Oxford to help them understand what they can personally do to help
City Council's response (December 2019)
On 19 December, the City Council’s Cabinet will formally welcome and respond to the final report from Assembly, setting out the next steps it will take - including budget allocation - to become a Zero Carbon Council and city.
In response to the report, the City Council will:
- Set a Climate Emergency Budget that commits over £1 million additional operational funding and £18 million of capital investment to address the climate emergency – on top of £84 million of ongoing investment to tackle the climate emergency in Oxford and countywide
- Become net zero as a Council in 2020.
- Respond directly to the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly through raising the energy efficiency of new homes and community buildings, cutting transport emissions, boosting renewable energy installation, expanding biodiversity across the city, and increasing public engagement with recycling.
- Hold a Zero Carbon Oxford summit in the early new year – involving the major organisations responsible for the majority of emissions in the city to see how we can work together to will be to develop a shared vision, forum, and plans to set a course towards a Zero Carbon Oxford.
- Establish a Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership and influence partners to do more.
- Creation of new carbon budgets for the city to step down to zero
- Provide support to individuals and communities to tackle the climate emergency.
Throughout its programme the City Council will also have full regard to the concerns clearly expressed by both councillors and Assembly Members that the programme to cut carbon emissions in Oxford neither disadvantages low-income households in the city, or sacrifices residents’ standard of living. In fact, the City Council has an opportunity to enhance residents’ standard of living, especially those who are most vulnerable and have low-incomes, through its climate action.
What happens next?
In the New Year, the findings will feed in to the City Council’s upcoming Sustainability Strategy, including an Action Plan to determine how the City Council can play its part in tackling the climate emergency over the coming months and years.
As recommended by the Assembly, City Council will also look at its role in convening and engaging stakeholders and the wider public to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One clear request from the Assembly was to produce educational material and information about how individuals can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the City Council will now work up detailed plans to achieve this.