A YEAR since declaring a climate emergency, Oxford City Council is looking at how it could get all its energy from renewable sources.

At a city council cabinet meeting on Wednesday, councillors agreed to the principle of sourcing their utilities from renewables, and if that was not possible, offsetting the carbon emissions of the power the council used by planting trees.

Tom Hayes, cabinet member for a zero-carbon Oxford, said the plans were a way for the council to turn its bold statement into real action.

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The energy plans are part of the council’s ambition to emit net-zero carbon by the end of this year.

But before the plans can go ahead, the council’s budget for the 2020-21 financial year needs to be approved.

Speaking on Wednesday night Mr Hayes said: “In this situation, we are talking about doing energy and water differently.”

Oxford Mail:

Tom Hayes. Picture: Ed Nix.

Oxford City Council’s electricity supply already comes from 100 per cent certified renewable sources according to a report presented to the cabinet.

And the council’s contract for a natural gas provider comes to an end this September.

The plans would mean that its new gas supplier could be one which supplies ‘green gas’, usually produced from farm waste.

The council also wants to offset any emissions it cannot currently stop, like from its fleet of vehicles, through tree planting and 'improving biodiversity'.

The cabinet report said offsetting was an extra part of the plan designed to absorb carbon already in the atmosphere, and not an excuse to continue burning fossil fuels as usual.

The council has steadily reduced the emissions it is responsible for since 2015.

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The city wants to switch away from fossil fuels.

There has been a net emissions reduction of 40.8 per cent between 2015 and 2019.

In 2014/15 the council produced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 9,703 tonnes of carbon dioxide, reduced to 5,744 tonnes by 2018/19.

Renewable electricity has helped to bring down the net carbon cost over the last two years, including from solar panels on council buildings.

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The council was still responsible for 7,741 tonnes of CO2 in 2018/19, but the equivalent of 1,997 tonnes of CO2 was produced from renewable electricity, bringing the net total down to the 5,744 tonnes the council has recorded.

Last year, the council said 80 per cent of its emissions came from powering its buildings.