What we are doing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions

We are committed to become carbon neutral by 2030.

In response to the climate emergency we have published our declaration Climate Action for a Thriving Oxfordshire (pdf format, 1.5Mb) setting out our commitment to be a zero carbon organization by 2030, and fully playing our part in creating a zero carbon Oxfordshire.

We have since developed a Climate Action Framework (pdf format, 13Mb) to inform the council’s approach to climate action.

In this framework we describe how we will:

  • Become a climate active council
  • Operate at net-zero carbon by 2030
  • Support maintained schools to decarbonise their estate
  • Work with our suppliers to green our supply chain
  • Enable a net-zero Carbon Oxfordshire by 2050.

A Climate Action Cabinet Advisory Group (CAG) (with representatives from Voice of Oxfordshire’s Youth and Community Action Groups) has been established to advise on our ongoing climate action strategy. 

Getting to net-zero

We have measured and reported our direct carbon footprint for many years. Since 2010 our annual emissions have reduced by over 50 percent through:

  • building and street lighting retrofit
  • improved ICT
  • more efficient use of our estate
  • fleet electrification
  • decarbonisation of the national electricity grid. 

In 2019/20 our annual emissions were just over 13,000 tonnes CO2e :

  • 53 per cent from street lighting
  • 18 per cent from business travel
  • 29 per cent from the energy used to heat and power our buildings

View our latest greenhouse gas report (pdf format, 876Kb).​

Our current actions and projects

Restart, Recovery, Renew

The council, residents and business alike have all adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. We can see that some of these adaptations also reduce carbon emissions. As we emerge, you will see us maintain and build on that resilience by:

  • Developing digital connectivity and skills to ensure continuity of services and to reduce travel emissions
  • Optimising our property portfolio to avoid unnecessary travel and to focus upon infrastructure necessary to deliver critical services
  • Reducing reliance on grid electricity by generating our own clean power and reducing demand.

Transforming business travel

For essential journeys, staff are encouraged to walk or cycle whenever possible.  Electric bikes and folding bikes are now being trialled as part of our revamped pool bike scheme providing another green travel alternative for staff.

For longer journeys or ones which can’t be done by other means, we are introducing electric-powered vehicles as we replace our 500-strong fleet.  We are rolling out charging points across our estate, and as at October 2020, we have 21 electric vehicles and 34 charging points across 17 council sites.

Our buildings

We are publishing our property strategy to enable estate rationalization and enhanced investment to reduce carbon emissions. We will develop an invest-to-save programme for energy efficiency and generation and review carbon management opportunities on our estate.

Actions we are taking include:

  • Replacing the lights in our buildings with energy-efficient LEDs has reduced the energy used for lighting by around 70 per cent and is saving around £78,000 per year. Further savings have been made by installing motion sensors and boiler controls. We are surveying our estate for further energy efficiency projects
  • Installing solar panels on a number of our buildings. The latest at Ron Groves House in Kidlington was installed in summer 2019 and is performing well. We are working with our Property Team to deliver further solar roof projects introducing new corporate building design standards in line with the industry Climate Emergency Design Guide standards
  • Buying REGO-backed green electricity for our estate and highways assets (streetlights, traffic signals and signs) from October 2020

Street lighting

£40m investment over the next four years will convert street lights across the county to LED with centralised controls. It will reduce costs and emissions by almost 70 per cent, saving 6,000 tonnes of CO2.

Our schools

We will support schools to take action on energy efficiency, ensure our services to school operate at low carbon and impact, and promote policy that encourages walking and cycling.

We now have solar panels installed on 15 Oxfordshire County Council schools, thanks to our partnership with The Low Carbon Hub. The panels generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 150 homes.

Our supply chain

We spend over £500m a year with contractors and suppliers to deliver critical services for residents. Creating a new social value policy will lever more benefits from our purchasing and drive the market for low-carbon goods and services, supporting Oxfordshire’s high potential low-carbon economy.

One of our contractors, Skanska, is already forging ahead, with a commitment to achieve net-zero across its operations by 2045.