Climate change remains at heart of all council’s decisions

Environmental considerations will be placed at the heart of decision-making across Oxfordshire County Council, after a climate and natural environment policy statement was approved.

On 15 November the council’s cabinet reaffirmed its commitment to climate action, adapting to the challenges created by climate change and the importance of nature and the natural environment, by endorsing the statement.

Councillor Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “Our emphasis on climate action, and on improving adaptation and resilience to extreme weather, is not a side project. It needs to steer every decision we take.

“On 19 July this year, Oxfordshire experienced the highest temperature ever recorded in the county – 38.4C. In other parts of the country the temperature reached 40.2C – breaking the previous UK record of 38.7C.

“The impact of climate change is being felt here in Oxfordshire right now and it is accelerating. Under all possible scenarios, Oxfordshire will be increasingly exposed to risks from a changing climate affecting individuals, communities, businesses, and supply chains. Not to mention the natural world which is, ultimately, our life support system.

“Without action, the escalating frequency and severity of extreme weather events – including heatwave, drought, flooding and storms – will pose increasing risks to our services, buildings, and infrastructure. Failure to respond rapidly and at scale would be an act of negligence.”

The Oxfordshire environmental principles included in the statement are to:

  • bring Oxfordshire to net zero carbon as early as possible in the 2040s
  • adapt to the challenges of climate change
  • protect, restore, enhance and create new nature areas and natural capital assets
  • use natural resources sustainably
  • be an exemplar for environmental sustainable development
  • ensure that existing and new communities see real benefits from the approach
  • resource ambitions, monitor and review regularly.

Putting action to address the climate emergency at the heart of its work was already top of the council’s nine strategic priorities.

The statement also builds on environmental commitments made by the council as part of the Future Oxfordshire Partnership.

The next step will be to shape a new strategic framework for Oxfordshire, alongside partners, to ensure that nature, the environment, and climate action are proactively designed into the policy-making process. 

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