Climate change is the most significant threat facing humankind today, with the threat of increased flood risk, severe drought and more extreme weather patterns resulting from greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Such threats will have serious consequences for the health and wellbeing of communities without taking proactive steps to address the causes and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
- It is essential that climate change considerations run through the Oxfordshire Plan strategy, to support the integrity and resilience of the natural environment and Oxfordshire’s communities
- Climate change is central to each of the Oxfordshire Plan themes and policies, as to properly address climate change, a coherent, joined-up approach encompassing development standards, transport and infrastructure and healthy ecosystems is required.
- Recent years have seen stronger national commitments to address the causes of climate change with strategies to accelerate clean growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions becoming increasingly more prevalent.
- In 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass net zero emissions law in an attempt to end the UK's contribution to global warming by 2050. Amendments to the Climate Change Act 2008 commit the UK Government to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100% (compared to 1990 levels) in the UK by 2050. The UK's 2050 net zero target is one of the most ambitious in the world and key to meeting the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature increases to no more than 1.5oc above pre-industrial levels and sets a long-term goal of net zero carbon emissions.
- It is recognised that local areas will play a key role in developing opportunities for low carbon energy and in making efforts to meet national and international commitments to tackling climate change.
- The Oxfordshire Energy Strategy is a key strategic influencer on the Oxfordshire Plan and sets objectives to;
i) Secure smart, modern, clean energy infrastructure to support planned housing, industrial and commercial growth and
ii) Lead nationally and internationally to reduce county-wide emissions by 50% by 2030, on 2008 levels and set a pathway to achieve zero carbon by 2050.
- Since the adoption of the Oxfordshire Energy Strategy, all Oxfordshire authorities, including the County Council have declared climate emergencies which recognise the importance of addressing climate change, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with commitments for net zero carbon emissions.
Date of Declaration
Council Operations Target
District wide target
Cherwell District Council
Oxford City Council
South Oxfordshire District Council
Vale of White Horse District Council
West Oxfordshire District Council
Oxfordshire County Council
- The Climate Emergency declarations provide an impetus for Oxfordshire's local authorities to strive for carbon reductions in their own operations and through those things that they can influence such as planning for development within their areas.
- One of the main mechanisms for addressing county-wide emissions arising from development is the county's planning framework, with adopted local and neighbourhood plans setting the vision, objectives and policies for sustainable development.
- The adopted local plans for Oxfordshire set clear objectives for addressing climate change and achieving net zero carbon development, particularly the recently adopted Oxford Local Plan 2036 and South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2035 which set clear pathways for achieving net zero residential development by 2030, using a combination of low carbon technology, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- There is a varied policy approach taken across local plans, however, with some deferring to buildings regulations to determine standards for the design and construction of buildings.
- Achieving net zero in Oxfordshire will require reductions in emissions from all sources and it is the intention of the Oxfordshire Plan to drive these down as far as possible. The Oxfordshire Plan will also seek to establish a framework in which environmental enhancements can be directed to where they can be most effective in mitigating the impacts of climate change and offsetting any residual carbon emissions that cannot be eradicated at source.
- It is important that the Oxfordshire Plan takes a proactive approach to addressing climate change and supporting the transition to a low carbon future as required by the National Planning Policy Framework. It is considered that taking a proactive approach to guiding development and environmental enhancements will be beneficial to the health and wellbeing of communities and in supporting a green recovery in Oxfordshire. There are a wealth of business and organisations driving innovation in the green economy and many more involved in the supply chains and supporting business sectors. Driving up standards in the Oxfordshire Plan and setting clear ambitions for addressing the causes, building resilience to and mitigating the impacts of climate change will bring multiple benefits to the county, provided the right investments can be made in the right places at the right time and the necessary skills and opportunities are built within our communities.
- The Oxfordshire Plan aims to deliver against its climate change ambitions through a range of approaches including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (improved building standards, increased renewable energy generation) and minimising vulnerability to and improving the resilience of communities and the natural environment (Natural Capital, Nature Recovery, Water Environment and biodiversity net gain).
Theme One – Meets the following Objectives of the Oxfordshire Plan
No 1. To demonstrate leadership in addressing the climate emergency by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.lock Quote
No 2. To conserve and enhance Oxfordshire's historic, built and natural environments, recognising the benefits these assets contribute to quality of life, local identity and economic success.
No 9. To deliver high quality, innovatively designed development that ensures efficient use of land and resources.