PEOPLE need to stop using cars and recycle more, while companies and government need to take more responsibility for climate change according to the people of Oxford.

A report based on the opinions of the Oxford Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change has been published today, detailing what action the residents who took part want to see.

Polling company Ipsos Mori recruited residents from across the city to create an assembly which was broadly representative of different demographics in Oxford.

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The majority of assembly members felt that Oxford should aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions sooner than the government’s target of 2050, but were not sure about what date should be set instead.

But the lack of consensus about a target was due to the complex nature of discussions about climate change which took place, according to one member of the assembly, revealing her identity to the public for the first time.

Oxford Mail:

Emma Howell, pictured with Jo Colwell, Oxford City Council’s sustainability director surrounded by Oxford City Council's roof top solar panels. Picture: Ed Nix.

Emma Howell, 49, of Marston, added that the assembly had been a learning experience for all involved.

Mrs Howell said: “All of us, regardless of our knowledge levels on climate change learned a lot.”

She said there was a definite change in some participants views who had been sceptical of climate science, after they had received talks from experts.

She added she had changed her own habits and encouraged her family and colleagues to make changes too.

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Mrs Howell said: “I spoke to the children about how we need to cut down on Amazon deliveries, to go out and buy from local shops instead.”

A majority of those taking part in the climate assembly also felt that ambitious steps needed to be taken on local issues which Oxford City Council could affect.

These local issues were split into themes: buildings, transport, waste, renewable energy, and biodiversity and carbon offsetting.

The report said the assembly broadly agreed there should be a shift away from driving cars toward public transport and cycling.

It added the members wanted to see improved building regulations for energy efficiency, simpler recycling, and more public information about climate change.

The assembly also wanted government and companies to do more, alongside individuals changing their habits.

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Professor Myles Allen, of Oxford University, was part of a panel advising how the assembly should be run, and also spoke as an expert to the members.

Prof Allen, who regularly gives talks on climate change, said it had been interesting to hear the opinions of members of the public who were not engaged in climate action.

He said: “What was really encouraging was that because people had time to engage with the issues they did really take away an understanding from it.”

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A total of 42 members of the public attended two weekend sessions as part of the assembly.

In the first weekend, they heard from 27 expert speakers on various issues surrounding climate change which the council could influence or change.

In the second weekend, a series of discussions took place between the assembly members about what changes they would like to see take place in Oxford to tackle climate change.

Oxford Mail:

An expert speaker at one of the Oxford Citizens Assembly sessions.

The report will be discussed at Oxford City Council’s cabinet on December 19, and will inform policies in the 2020/21 budget.

Tom Hayes, cabinet member for for a zero carbon Oxford, welcomed the report, and said the council would use it to inform fully-costed proposals to tackle climate change in next year’s budget.

He added that similar citizens assemblies could be used to achieve a ‘democratic consensus’ on other hot button issues.

The panel of experts who helped to put together the citizen’s assembly, the first of its kind in the UK, are now being asked for help from local authorities across the UK to conduct similar schemes.

A series of select committees in parliament are also planning a nationwide citizens assembly on climate change, based on the same model as used in Oxford.

The report, as well as videos of all the talks given to assembly members can be found online at