Agenda item

Agenda item

Climate Emergency Review Group Updates

Scrutiny Committee has requested an update paper on the Council’s progress relating to actions arising from the Climate Emergency Review Group. Cllr Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Green Transport, Mish Tullar, Head of Corporate Strategy and Rose Dickinson, Carbon Reduction Team Manager have been invited to present a report.


The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations it wishes to make to Cabinet arising from it.


Cllr Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford introduced the report and highlighted that the Zero Carbon Action Plan was a coproduced document which included the accepted recommendations of the Climate Emergency Review Group.

Mish Tullar, Head of Corporate Strategy added that the Action Plan was published in March 2021 and was a living document mostly comprised of a RAG rating tracker. The Committee was informed of the intention for the Action Plan to be updated and submitted to Cabinet for consideration later in 2022.

Cllr Dr Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini and Cllr Tiago Corais joined the meeting.

The Committee raised a number of points in relation to the Action Plan, including around:

  • Cycle greenways into the city - in response to questions, Cllr Hayes explained that they were part of the overall Council strategy but that there was limited resource that needed to be allocated to other priorities where it would have most impact, including ZEBRA and the Bus Prioritisation Plan. The Head of Corporate Strategy added that the County Council was the overall lead for cycleways and had diverted funding to emergency transport issues (e.g. quietways) during the pandemic.
  • Biodiversity Officer - the Head of Corporate Strategy confirmed that Tristan Carlyle had taken up post so there was a added resource for taking forward the biodiversity actions and consideration could be given to taking forward additional recommendations on biodiversity that were not originally included in the Action Plan.
  • Definition of net zero - the Committee said it would be helpful to have a clear definition of what was and was not included in the Council's definition of net zero in order to avoid confusion. Cllr Hayes agreed. Rose Dickinson, Carbon Reduction Team Manager advised that the definition of net zero was the subject of a report to Cabinet in December 2021.
  • ZCOP Transport Workstream - concern was expressed that the Partnership should include examination of the proposals for a cable car into the city as an important means of reducing CO2 emissions and pollutants.
  • RAG rating - concerns were raised that the RAG rating was overly generous and did not reflect the gap in resources required to undertake much of the work. It was added that some of the timescales in the Action Plan appeared ambitious. The Committee was advised that the RAG rating had been done as objectively as possible and in some cases strategy or a plan had been delivered rather than actions.
  • Fleet vehicles - Cllr Hayes advised that currently there is no budget to go above 25% decarbonisation but that he hoped that the City's record of ambition would attract additional investment.
  • Retrofit - in response to questions, Cllr Hayes confirmed that Government measures prevented any increase being imposed on rent to lever funds for retrofits.
  • New residential buildings - Cllr Hayes advised that the consultants that were commissioned to conduct condition surveys for the Council's whole commercial portfolio had been disengaged as they could not meet the timescales. He added that the new timescales were not yet known.
  • Equalities impact - concerns were raised about the fact that the equalities impact section in the report was not good enough and there was no mention of disability within the report. It was requested for issues of equalities and in particular disability to be taken much more seriously and embedded much earlier on. Cllr Hayes agreed to take that point back and ensure it was reflected in future reports. It was also pointed out that measures to reduce energy consumption in Council-owned homes also had potentially significant equalities impact. In response to questions, the Head of Corporate Strategy confirmed that the membership of the Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change was representative and that there was a report on this that he could share. It was added that the Council was still engaged with the Citizens Assembly and it had supported a fair amount of work, particularly around retrofit.
  • Landlord and tenant engagement - in response to questions about being unable to engage with landlords and tenants due to capacity, the Head of Corporate Strategy confirmed that this would be picked up this year. He advised there was an action plan but it needed an overarching strategy/roadmap above it. Cllr Hayes added that a pack was due to be agreed at the end of the month to send to commercial and new landlords about reducing their carbon footprint.

Cllr Hayes, the Head of Corporate Strategy and the Carbon Reduction Team Manager left the meeting and did not return.

The Committee resolved to recommend to Cabinet that:

·       The Council works with the County Council to prioritise the delivery of cycle greenways into the City which were paused owing to Covid.

·       The Council provides a clear definition of the assumptions and definitions it is applying when referencing net zero in strategies and other documents.

·       When the Council next updates its Zero Carbon Action Plan it provides, where possible, clarity over how far existing, allocated resources are expected to move the Council towards each goal.

·       The Council makes greater efforts to ensure that climate policies are disability inclusive, including involving disability groups at the earliest stage.



Supporting documents: