Oxford City Council’s greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 15% compared to pre-pandemic levels

Published: Wednesday, 26th April 2023

Oxford City Council achieved a 15% reduction in carbon emissions in 2021/22 compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest data outlining its journey to becoming a net zero carbon council.

Each year, the Council publishes its annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions report which measures the annual greenhouse gas emissions from its buildings – including offices, leisure centres and car parks – vehicles and water use.

The latest data - which covers the period of 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 - shows a 15% decrease in the Council’s greenhouse gas emissions when compared to 2019/2020 levels, - dropping from 7,425 tonnes in 2019/20 to 6,314 tonnes in 2021/22.

This decrease is equivalent to over 2.8 million miles driven by the average fossil-fuel powered car.

Key highlights from the report include:

  • A 15% decrease in emissions when compared to 2019/2020 levels – the last business as usual year – from 7,425 tonnes in 2019/20 to 6,314 tonnes in 2021/22.
  • A 13% reduction in electricity and 10% reduction in gas consumption compared with 2019/2020 levels.
  • Emissions have decreased by 26.3% over the past five years (2017/2018 - 2021/22)
  • Since 2014/15, the Council has achieved a 54% reduction in emissions.

During 2020/21, the City Council achieved an even more significant drop in emissions (32.9% from 2019/20 – to 4,985 tonnes) – but this was because council buildings, including leisure centres and swimming pools, were closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to this, when making accurate comparisons on long-term progress, the latest data should be compared to the last business-as-usual year – 2019/2020.

Tackling Oxford’s carbon emissions

Oxford City Council has a target to become net zero carbon across its own operations by 2030. In order to achieve this the Council needs to achieve more than an average 10% annual reduction in emissions every year until 2030. That is roughly 530 tonnes of carbon every single year.

Oxford City Council is only responsible for about 1% of emissions in Oxford. Alongside its work to reduce its own emissions, the Council is working closely with large businesses and organisations in the city as part of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership, including the universities, hospitals to tackle city-wide carbon emissions.

Members of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership are working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions across the city as a whole by the year 2040 – 10 years ahead of the legal deadline set by Government.

“I am pleased with our progress on our journey to net zero this year as we work towards becoming a net zero carbon council by 2030. Our carbon management plan has outlined the actions we need and to take, and the 15% reduction in emissions compared to pre-pandemic levels shows that we are taking steps towards achieving this target. I am looking forward to continuing our journey and working with officers, partners, councilors, and members of the public to tackle the climate emergency in Oxford.”  

Councillor Anna Railton, Cabinet Member for Net Zero and Climate Justice