AN Oxford City Council plan for reducing the amount of carbon emitted in the city to net zero by 2040 has been criticised by opposition politicians.

The Net Zero Oxford action plan, released on the city council website on March 23, was ridiculed by Green and Liberal Democrat opposition politicians.

The document, sent out ahead of the 'purdah' period before local elections when councils can no longer actively promote political projects, is described as a plan for 'bringing about a net zero carbon city by 2040 or earlier—ten whole years ahead of the Government’s national legal target.'

However, Craig Simmons, Green group leader, accused the Labour-run council of 'botching together' a plan which did not plot how the council would get from A to B on its decarbonisation agenda.

The publicly available action plan recounts a series of existing policies the city council has agreed upon to work towards net zero, including the Zero Emissions Zone, and powering all its buildings through sustainable means.

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The plan also mentions a recent zero carbon summit held by the council with other big employers in the city to reduce their carbon footprint.

It also mentions the Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change, which gave a vote of confidence to becoming a net zero carbon city before the Government target of 2050.

Mr Simmons added: "There is nothing new and nothing to indicate that these measures are sufficient to deliver a 'zero carbon' Oxford. For example, the report admits that the City has just 1.6 per cent of the necessary renewable energy capacity yet there is no explanation of how this gap will be bridged."

And his comments were echoed by Lib Dem opposition leader Andrew Gant.

But Tom Hayes, the city council's cabinet member for a Zero Carbon Oxford, said: "The City Council is responsible for 1 per cent of the city’s emissions, but we can influence up to 66 per cent of its emissions."

"With this Action Plan we bring together every bit of the Council’s carbon-busting work into one place and provide a basis for updates. We set out our underlying vision of why, as well as how, we’re committing so much time, energy, and focus to working with others to bring about a Zero Carbon Oxford ten years earlier than the Government’s legal target. 

"Under Labour, the City Council is already one of the UK’s most effective and ambitious climate councils. The Green Party have run out of ideas, their plans seem half-hearted, and they don’t have any energy about them.

"If the Green Party are truly serious about the environment, they need to get serious about policy and come up with ideas. If they truly want to be a serious administration or opposition, they need to not just lazily criticise but actually do the tough work of thinking up a credible, affordable, ambitious climate plan that carries majority support.

"They need to figure out how they can make a difference and I think the Green Party know themselves that they face an existential crisis."

Mish Tullar, head of communications at the city council, said the Action Plan brought together a series of existing council policies so paid staff could monitor progress on them.