Tackling climate change through reduction, resilience and renewal

Learning the lessons of tackling climate change in Oxfordshire has produced its own version of the 3 Rs – reduction, resilience and renewal.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet has given its backing to a number of measures and principles aimed at improving the environment while taking into account the need for growth and its work within partnership groups.

At the heart of these measures was the council’s commitment to:

  • Reducing its own emissions to become zero carbon by 2030 and enabling Oxfordshire to become carbon neutral by 2050, as set out in its Climate Action Framework.
  • Developing a resilience to the impacts of climate change in Oxfordshire.
  • Bringing about renewal of the natural environment including enhancing biodiversity.

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Carbon reduction has long been seen as the main target of climate action, but we are also recognising the other pillars to the work that needs to be done.

“One is resilience where we actually have to find some ways of responding to the impact of climate change because we’re not going to beat it all. The other is renewal, with the attention focussed on how to achieve the revival of natural environments as growth moves alongside it.”

Cabinet members agreed at their 16 March meeting to:

  • Support the setting up of an environment advisory group to the Oxfordshire Growth Board.
  • Endorse a series of shared principles with other constituent authorities for protecting, restoring and enhancing the built and natural environment within the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.
  • Support the development of an Ox-Cam Arc environment strategy.
  • Note the progress made on the development of a local nature partnership for Oxfordshire.

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is an ambitious plan to maximise the economic and cultural potential of the region encompassing Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, to transform it into one of the world’s premier growth corridors and become a world leader in sustainability.

The Arc’s environment principles will embrace green spaces, housing standards, sustainable transport, energy generation and transmission and water management and conservation. Its environment strategy will help deliver these goals.

Oxfordshire is one of the few areas nationally not to have a local nature partnership, and the only county without one in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. Its creation would bring together organisations in a collaborative way to help manage the natural environment.

Plans for the Oxfordshire Growth Board’s environment advisory group will improve the county’s ability to take advantage of the Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs’ 25 year environment plan. This plan sets out a comprehensive approach to protect, restore and enhance landscapes and habitats, as well as creating new nature areas.

Cllr Constance added: “The county council has a good track record of partnership working and I think this statement of intent is a very significant move towards recognising the other pillars of work to be done on the environment.”