Agenda item

Agenda item

Zero Carbon Council by 2030: 4th carbon management plan 2021/22 to 2029/30

Cabinet, at its meeting on 10 February, will consider a report on the Zero Carbon Council by 2030: 4th carbon management plan 2021/22 to 2029/30. The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations thereon.

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford and Tim Sadler, Transition Director, have been invited to attend for this item.



Cllr Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Green Transport & Zero Carbon Oxford, introduced the report, the intention of which was to bring to an end the Council’s contribution to global warming by 2030 or sooner and outlining how the Council will be net zero carbon by the end of 2021. This proposal built further on the Council’s declaration in 2019 of a climate emergency and the subsequent wish of the majority of the Council’s Citizen’s Assembly to go ‘further and faster’ than the Government’s ambition to achieve zero carbon by 2050. The Council had assembled a robust evidence base to inform policy and provide the basis for plans which were both ambitious and realistic. While the Council’s carbon emissions account for just 1% of those in the City, it had a role to lead by example and galvanise others to do the same. The report looked to the future but it was far from the first step in the Council’s programme of activity to reduce carbon emissions, having reduced them by some 23% since 2014. The Council had been successful in attracting significant external funding to support this area of activity and there was every reason to believe that this would continue to be the case all of which would contribute to the success of this ambitious project.

Tim Sadler, Transition Director, reinforced the point  that the focus of this report was on Scopes 1 and 2 of the plan, and principally about the Council’s operational buildings, and that further reports would come forward in due course  about the Council’s other interests. There was, also, an ambition to come forward with a Zero Oxford plan in due course.

The Committee agreed that this was an ambitious and welcome plan. In order to achieve its ambitions it was suggested that a greater level of rigour was needed in relation to reporting, measuring outcomes, setting targets etc. More generally it was important to adopt a standardised reporting approach in relation to zero carbon. A number of detailed recommendations were suggested and subject to discussion.

Cllr Hayes’s preliminary response was that much of what had been suggested  was not strictly necessary, partly because of the greenhouse gas report which came to the Committee annually which gave a considerable amount of detail  and transparency was ensured by its wide dissemination.

The Transition Director said there would be reluctance to redraft the plan at this stage given the considerable amount of work which had gone into pulling it together across the organisation. He reminded the Committee that the version now before it was based on previous plans and the requirement to report on greenhouse gases. He recognised however the value in seeking to align the plan with other metrics that might be available and useful. He explained that in the case of the Leisure Centres operated by Fusion there was a mechanism to ensure that the Council would benefit from any investment made in those buildings. The successful bid for Salix funding for decarbonisation of Council buildings was very welcome but he sounded a note of caution given that it did come with conditions, of which the most pressing were timescales.

It was agreed that the final recommendations should be prefaced by recognition of the Committee’s support for the ambition set out in the plan.

The Committee then considered the recommendations which had been proposed earlier in the meeting all of which were agreed subject to minor modification and are recorded below.

A further proposal was made that all Cabinet reports should contain a section to note the environmental consequences of decisions being sought. Cllr Hayes noted that he had raised the matter at the last Cabinet meeting where agreement to the principle of such a change was given. The Committee agreed nonetheless to include this  as a further recommendation to Cabinet, with the addition of a reference to how the decisions would  assist with the  Council’s progression to zero carbon.


Recommendation 1: That the Council develops the Carbon Management Plan to align with established 'net zero' measurement, reporting and target-setting standards and guidance (e.g. PAS 2060, Carbon Neutral Protocol, GHG Protocol Organisational and Scope 3 Standards, Sciencnne-based Target Initiative) to ensure that terminology is used correctly and that the plan is credible, transparent and accurate. 


Recommendation 2: That the Council subjects the resulting report and the  'net zero' claim to independent audit

Recommendation 3: That the Council undertakes a carbon cost-benefit analysis to guide decision-making and to ensure that the quickest and most cost effective carbon reduction measures are pursued first.

Recommendation 4: That the Council integrates its own strategy into that of the wider City recognising that though it's policies, partnership working and influence the Council can impact more than 1% of the City's emissions. 

Recommendation 5: That the Council introduces environmental impact assessments into its standard Cabinet report template, with a particular focus on how the actions being proposed will help the Council move towards being zero carbon


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