Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership welcome COP26

Published: Wednesday, 3rd November 2021

As leaders from around the world meet in Glasgow for COP26, key organisations and businesses across Oxford have issued a letter to COP26 President.

The letter welcomes the start of the COP26 summit and highlights the need for concentrated action from Government.

The “Letter from Oxford”, which was sent to COP26 President, Alok Sharma, welcomes the Government’s leadership on climate change, but highlights that additional commitments are required in order to unlock faster decarbonisation at a local level.

The letter has been issued by the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership.

The letter highlights that while the Partnership has opportunities for collaborative action to reduce emissions, there is also a need for concentrated action from government to unlock progress across several areas, building on the commitments made in the Government’s Net Zero Strategy:  

  • Long term and reliable funding for energy efficiency building on learnings from the Green Homes Grant and the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.
  • Rapid investment in public and active transport to support Oxford achieve a 25% reduction in road transport by 2030 and embed positive behaviour changes seen during the pandemic.
  • Coordinated market mechanisms for local flexibility and network reinforcement to allow significant electrification of heat and transport, learning from innovative projects such as Local Energy Oxfordshire.

The ambition of Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership is to work with Government to accelerate the adoption of clean and sustainable energy in Oxford and across the UK.

What is the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership?

In February 2021, Oxford City Council held the Zero Carbon Oxford Summit which saw leaders from major businesses and organisations across the city give their support to the ambition of achieving net zero carbon emissions as a city by 2040. 

The Summit brought together leaders from both City and County Councils, both universities, both hospital trusts, major businesses including BMW, Unipart and LandSec, transport providers, schools and further education colleges, anchored institutions, and other organisations that are strategically important to achieving a net zero city by 2040.

The work of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership is informed by the Zero Carbon Oxford roadmap, which divides almost all the city’s emissions into the five sectors with the greatest climate impact - domestic, commercial, industry, institutional, and transport.

In the summer, the partnership approved the publication of the Zero Carbon Oxford roadmap, which models a pathway to net-zero 10 whole years ahead of the UK’s Government’s legal targets.

Following the timelines identified in the science-based roadmap, it is predicted that by 2040, action will have reduced Oxford’s carbon emissions by 88% from 2018 levels. 

Find out more about the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership at www.zerocarbonoxford.com

Comment

“This week, we have written to the President of COP26 about what Oxford can do to help make a real difference. In Oxford, we have scientific experts on how to tackle to climate change, and the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership is a coalition of willing and enthusiastic organisations from across the city who are all dedicated to becoming a Zero Carbon Oxford by 2040–ten whole years ahead of the national legal target. 

“We welcome all efforts to address the climate emergency and we want to help the Government by offering our expertise, as well as calling on them to provide more support locally in order for us to enact the change needed to achieve net zero as quickly as possible.”
Councillor Tom Hayes, Chair of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership

“Sustainability is at the heart of the BMW Group. As one of the largest employers in Oxfordshire, we’re delighted to be part of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership. Our global team is working across the whole lifecycle of our vehicles and this includes our manufacturing sites, to create a future that is carbon neutral and circular.”
Alexandra Schneider, Director of Finance and Compliance for UK Plants Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall, BMW Mini

“It’s important to inspire our business community to understand the role that they can play, and the practical steps they can take, in embracing a zero-carbon future.

“And in seeking new solutions, Oxfordshire expertise is being applied to explore the boundaries of future energy systems. For example, in nuclear fusion – led by the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy – a form of energy that offers the world an abundant and replenishable source of energy within our lifetimes.

“In addition to this, two UK energy system demonstrators – the Energy Superhub Oxford and Project LEO, an ambitious smart grid trial – are based in the county and it’s this expertise and capability that we will continue to highlight both during COP26 and beyond.”
Jeremy Long, Chair of OxLEP

“The coming together of the international community for the COP26 summit reiterates that the climate crisis is a global emergency. We have an important local role to play in achieving net-zero carbon emissions here in Oxford with our Zero Carbon Oxford Partners.

“Sustainability is at the heart of our University’s campuses and activities, from teaching to our world-leading research. We’re committed to sharing our expertise to help the city achieve its ambitious target, and I am proud that Oxford Brookes University is supporting the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter and the far-reaching ambitions of the partnership.”
Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust welcomes the opportunity to work as part of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership to achieve the collective aim of a zero-carbon city by 2040.   The Trust has already taken strong steps in recognising, promoting and reducing the impact on the environment and has made ‘making the best use of our resources and protecting the environment’ one of four core objectives within its new Trust Strategy (2021 – 2026) published earlier this year.”
Dr Nick Broughton, Oxford Health’s Chief Executive Officer

"Through projects such as LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire), SSEN is able to support the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership and develop a blueprint for collaboration to reach the net zero target for 2040. COP26 gives an opportunity for clarity of direction for policy makers, and clarity of purpose for communities and businesses to encourage investment and innovation at the local level”

Melanie Bryce, Oxfordshire Programme Director, SSEN


Letter to Rt. Hon Alok Sharma MP

Dear COP26 President
As members of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership (ZCOP) we write to welcome the Government’s leadership on climate change as we approach COP26.

With the publication of the Net Zero Strategy and the commitment to cut emissions by 78% in 2035, the UK is firmly at the forefront of global efforts to achieve net zero by mid-century.
With the warnings about climate change being starker than ever, it is clear that these bold commitments now need to be turned into action. The IPCC has signalled “code red” for humanity, while the Environment Agency has said it is a matter of “adapt or die” with action needed to prepare communities and businesses for the impacts of a warming climate.
Key to achieving this will be greater collaboration – demonstrated by ZCOP, which brings together leaders of Oxford’s major businesses and organisations to work towards achieving a net zero city by 2040. Partners include both the city’s universities, hospital trusts, BMW, Oxfordshire County Council, Unipart, Landsec and many others. Our ambitious work programme has already begun, with collective effort steered by a specially commissioned “Oxford Carbon Roadmap to Net Zero”.

While there are areas where our collaborative action will reduce emissions, the Roadmap also highlights the need for concentrated action from government to unlock progress across several areas, building on the commitments made in the Net Zero Strategy:

  • Long term and reliable funding for energy efficiency building on learnings from the Green Homes Grant and the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.
  • Rapid investment in public and active transport to support Oxford achieve a 25% reduction in road transport by 2030 and embed positive behaviour changes seen during the pandemic.
  • Coordinated market mechanisms for local flexibility and network reinforcement to allow significant electrification of heat and transport, learning from innovative projects such as Local Energy Oxfordshire.

Oxford is already a major hub of innovation and expertise on climate change, with its world class universities and world-leading research, innovation and technology assets. Local projects such as Energy Superhub Oxford, Local Energy Oxfordshire and Go Ultra Low Oxford are actively providing solutions and show-casing the opportunities of the transition to net zero.

The city and county councils are also working together on transport projects, including a Zero Emission Zone for Oxford city centre, and the Connecting Oxford scheme.
The ambition of ZCOP is to work with Government to draw on these strengths and accelerate the adoption of clean and sustainable energy. In 2019, Oxford became the first city in the UK to hold a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change, which found very strong support for rapid and transformation action to address the challenge.

Oxford is already taking a leadership position on decarbonisation within the UK, and with further Government backing we can make our city a test-bed for new and innovative schemes and approaches – a national exemplar of decarbonisation work at a small city level. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you the work of ZCOP.

You can find out more about ZCOP and our work at www.zerocarbonoxford.com

Yours sincerely,
The Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership

  1. University of Oxford 
  2. Unipart 
  3. Landsec 
  4. Oxfordshire County Council 
  5. BMW Mini
  6. The Conference of Colleges 
  7. Oxford Brookes University 
  8. Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 
  9. Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust 
  10. Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP)
  11. Low Carbon Hub 
  12. Activate Learning 
  13. Lucy Group 
  14. Nielsen 
  15. Oxfam GB 
  16. Oxford Bus Company 
  17. River Learning Trust 
  18. Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) 
  19. Stagecoach in Oxfordshire 
  20. Oxford City Council