Published: Thursday, 4 February 2021

Leaders of Oxford’s major businesses and organisations gathered at a virtual Zero Carbon Oxford Summit today (4/02/21).

The leaders gave their support to the aspiration of achieving net zero carbon emissions as a city by 2040. 

Coordinated by Oxford City Council, the group of 21 leaders from the city’s universities, institutions and large businesses have signed the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter, which marks their support for 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 Summit was an opportunity for representatives to showcase their climate plans and action, facilitate conversation about a collective vision, and establish a formal partnership and collaborative approach to tackling the climate crisis.

The Council’s Scientific Adviser, Nick Eyre, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Oxford, addressed the Summit confirming that the 2040 net zero date was technically achievable and ambitious for the city. A detailed roadmap to net zero emissions for Oxford has been commissioned and will be published in summer 2021.

Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership

The closing of the summit was marked by the signing of the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter, and the creation of a new Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership for the city.

The new Partnership will involve those organisations gathered at the Summit as well as enabling a wider range of stakeholders to play their part in cutting Oxford’s carbon footprint to zero.

By agreeing to join the Partnership, organisations will be supporting an ambition of achieving net zero carbon emissions as a city by 2040.

The new Partnership will provide:

  • a collaborative approach to implementing carbon reduction measures
  • enable partners to share their examples of best practice and learn from each other
  • develop funding bids and attract financial support for the ambitious and innovative projects which will allow the city to go further and faster in its journey to net zero carbon
  • lobby the UK Government for powers, policy, and funding
  • engage customers, citizens and communities in shared climate action

The Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership replaces the Low Carbon Oxford partnership which was established a decade ago with an aim to reduce carbon emissions in Oxford by 40% by 2020, by members managing their own carbon footprints - which the city is on course to achieve.   

The new Partnership changes the focus from organisations managing their own estates, towards collaborative action and using each member’s sphere of influence and knowledge to achieve shared goals and initiatives across the City.

The Partnership will be governed by a Steering Group to provide high level governance, comprised of key organisations that are strategically important to reducing emissions in the city of Oxford.

“It is more important than ever that citizens, organisations, and governments at all levels show leadership to tackle the climate emergency head on. The City Council has brought together 21 organisations, and while our summit will last for one day, the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership that it launches will work every day to become a net zero city. Our joint ambition to become a net zero city by 2040—ten years earlier than the target set by the Government—is a strong sign of the pace and ambition required. It also marks another case of the Council honouring the recommendations of our Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change. With so many people facing unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 economic crisis, the race to 2040 is an opportunity we can’t refuse - to unlock significant sustainable investment in Oxford that benefits our communities with new jobs and skills.”

Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford

“Oxford has the expertise to be a leader in the transition away from carbon based energy to a sustainable energy system. The formation of Zero Carbon Oxford shows that key organisations in the city are united in that ambition.”

Professor Nick Eyre, Scientific Adviser to Oxford City Council

Organisations and businesses from across the city pledged their support to the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter and the clear ambition for a net zero carbon city by 2040: 

“Oxford University is fully committed to reducing its impact on the environment.  We are in the last stages of consultation on a new University Environmental Sustainability Strategy which proposes a target of net zero carbon and net biodiversity gain by 2035.  The University is delighted to be working with others in our community to reduce emissions across Oxford as a whole to net zero by 2040.”

Dr David Prout, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Planning and Resources) at the University of Oxford

"BMW Group is very happy to support the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership and its aim of cutting Oxford’s carbon footprint to zero by 2040. Sustainability and the efficient use of resources are central to our operations here in Oxford. We look forward to working with the council and other organisations as part of a joint effort to tackle climate change and to create an even brighter future for the city.”

Alexandra Schneider, Finance Director at MINI Plant Oxford

"Climate Action is integral to our vision for a thriving Oxfordshire. In October the County published its climate action statement – committing us to make climate a high priority in our decision making and to take action across a wide range of our responsibilities. 

“We are pleased to support this new Partnership which reflects the shared ambition of many organisations to accelerate action towards zero emissions. We will continue to play our role in decarbonising transport through initiatives such as ZEZ, Connecting Oxford and supporting active travel, reducing the impact of waste and our buildings, and supporting our communities with their own climate ambitions through the Community Action Group project”

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport

“With sustainability at the core of Unipart’s business strategy, tackling climate change is a top priority for us. It is critically important that local businesses and organisations approach this challenge in a collaborative manner and work together towards net zero target. Unipart has committed to taking ambitious climate action and has set science based targets aligned with the current climate science.”

Andy Pyne, Logistics Operations Director, Unipart

“The climate crisis is a global emergency, but we have an important local role to play in achieving net zero carbon emissions here in Oxford. At Oxford Brookes, carbon emissions have reduced by 35% since 2005 and 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 to support the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter on behalf of Oxford Brookes.” 

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University

“The Conference of Colleges are delighted to be part of the ZCO Partnership and welcome the focus on reducing carbon emissions in Oxford. We look forward to contributing to these conversations and plans for reaching net zero ahead of 2050.”

Professor Katherine J. Willis CBE, Chair of the Conference of Colleges Sustainability working group and Principal of St Edmund Hall

“We are delighted to join Oxford City Councils, Oxford’s two world leading Universities and many other far sighted businesses in signing Zero Carbon Oxford Charter and playing our part in treasuring precious natural resources, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality and in the City of Oxford and more widely in Southern England.”

Mark Beard, Chairman, Beard Construction

"I welcome this ambitious vision for Oxford and the opportunity to collaborate with organisations across the City. We all have the power to save our planet and its people, but it's vital we take action now and work together.

"Oxfam works with communities across the world to overcome the devastating effects of the climate crisis - from helping people recover after powerful storms to pushing governments to provide the policies and funding the poorest communities need to survive and thrive in a more extreme climate.

"But we also know we have a role to play much closer to home, by doing all we can to reduce emissions from our operations in Oxford, our national shop network, and our international travel. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together."

Danny Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB

"Buses will play a key role in the country's green recovery and help us to build back better. Stagecoach has already taken a number of steps to deliver cleaner air in Oxford through the introduction of Euro 6 engines and by continually reviewing our network to ensure we are providing vital connections to encourage modal shift from car to bus.  

"We are excited at the prospect of advancing our commitment by working in partnership with Oxford City Council and other businesses and organisations to increase the speed in which carbon emissions are reducing and ultimately move towards a city with zero net emissions by 2040.

"By signing the Charter, we are cementing our pledge to actively engage with ZCO’s agenda in order to meet these carbon targets as a collective."

Chris Coleman, Managing Director of Stagecoach Oxfordshire

“We have always strived to be at the forefront of clean technology innovation in public transport and more than two-thirds of our fleet now meets the ultra-low emission Euro VI standard. This has helped to reduce harmful emissions in Oxford and look forward to working in partnership with stakeholders to go further and reach our city’s net zero carbon ambition.”

Phil Southall, Managing Director of Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel

“Some of the most critical challenges facing the world today are moving towards a zero-carbon economy and dealing with the implications of climate change. At Landsec, we strongly believe that it is only by working together that we will be able to face these. The partnership with the Zero Oxford Summit provides a fantastic opportunity for us to work alongside other organisations to accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions on a city-wide basis.”

Nils Rage, Sustainable Design and Innovation Manager, Landsec

“NielsenIQ in line with our own company ambitions are pleased to be able to support Oxford ZCO initiatives.” 

Rachel White, Country Manager, UK and Ireland, NielsenIQ

“We are excited to work with local partners to achieve net zero carbon emissions in Oxford by 2040. We will build on our current work, such as reducing our reliance on paper for patient communications and processes, and taking action to remove single use plastics from our sites to reduce our environmental impact. We are committed to making it easier for patients and staff to access our sites and services closer to home, working collaboratively with other local organisations to best serve our population.”

David Walliker, Chief Digital and Partnerships Officer, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

"It is hugely exciting to see Low Carbon Oxford moving on to become the newly launched Zero Carbon Oxford. We stepped up to the challenge as a City before and achieved a 40% reduction by 2020 and now is the time to consolidate that, and benefit all citizens, by working together on getting to zero."  

Dr Barbara Hammond, CEO, Low Carbon Hub

“We are delighted to be joining the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter. Our work in Oxfordshire as part of project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire) has been key in helping SSEN understanding and prepare for a changing energy system and increased electricity demand as we move towards net zero. With a rapid increase in low-carbon technologies, like electric vehicles, heat pumps and local renewables, forecast this Partnership provides an opportunity to continue this understanding and preparation as Oxford progresses towards its 2040 zero carbon emissions goal.”

Melanie Bryce, Oxfordshire Programme Director, SSEN

Register for more information about the Zero Carbon Oxford partnership on its website.

Next Steps

The first meeting of the Zero Carbon Oxford Steering Group will agree the initial actions the Partnership needs to take. Oxford City Council will also work with its Scientific Advisor, Professor Nick Eyre of the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, to develop an initial roadmap of for how the whole city will reach net zero emissions by 2040.

The map will include the five yearly carbon targets for the city that are both achievable and scientifically robust, and will be published in summer 2021.

The full list of businesses and organisations that attended the summit and signed the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter were:

  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 – signing of the Charter is subject to Board ratification
  11. Low Carbon Hub 
  12. Activate Learning 
  13. Beard Construction 
  14. Lucy Properties 
  15. Nielsen 
  16. Oxfam GB 
  17. Oxford Bus Company 
  18. River Learning Trust 
  19. Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) 
  20. Stagecoach in Oxfordshire 
  21. Oxford City Council 

A2Dominion, a major housing association operating in Oxford also attended the Summit and a decision on signing the Charter will be taken by its board.

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