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Councils welcome call on climate action

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have welcomed a call from Oxford Friends of the Earth for all Oxfordshire councils to do everything they can to tackle the climate emergency, while highlighting the positive work that is already taking place.

Oxford Friends of the Earth published a report entitled ‘In case of emergency…’ last week that looks at what the six Oxfordshire councils have done in the two years since they all declared a climate emergency.  The report is the first independent analysis of climate action by councils and shows that they have all set ambitious targets and carried out positive work, and that there appears to be genuine commitment to act, but it says more needs to be done if those targets are to be met.

Cllr Sue Cooper, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We welcome the feedback and recommendations from the Friends of the Earth survey and appreciate the time and effort they have put into developing the suggested ways forward.  We have already carried out a significant amount of work to ensure we put the tackling the climate emergency at the heart of everything we do, and we are now looking at the specific actions that could make a real difference, both as a council and as a district.

“We were glad to be able to contribute to this survey, giving updates on the climate action work being done and planned to take place.”

Cllr Catherine Webber, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Environment at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Friends of the Earth are absolutely right to issue councils like ours with this call-to-action – it’s important that we’re all focused on what is a significant challenge. We have already begun taking real action, like the project to overhaul the heating system at Faringdon Leisure Centre, and we are already set to deliver some of the recommendations highlighted by Friends of the Earth, including staff training on the climate emergency. 

“We continue to make significant strides in ensuring we are in the best place possible locally to tackle this challenge and look forward to working with Friends of the Earth and people across the Oxfordshire community on climate action projects.”

In February 2019 both councils declared a climate emergency and since then have published have new Corporate Plans which put tackling the issue at the forefront of their councils’ work. 

South Oxfordshire also declared an Ecological Emergency and introduced a Climate and Ecological Emergencies Advisory Committee (CEEAC) to advise Cabinet on the climate and ecological crises, while the Vale launched its own Climate Emergency Advisory Committee.

Both councils have set targets to become a carbon neutral council by 2025 for south and by 2030 for Vale, and a carbon neutral district by 2030 and 2045 respective. South Oxfordshire has also published updated Air Quality Guidance for Developers.

There are some exciting new projects just around the corner too, both districts are working closely with Oxfordshire County Council on a park and charge scheme which aims to install electric vehicle chargers in the district.