A ‘green treaty’ agreeing ways to cut Oxford’s carbon emissions is being proposed by the city council.

The council is holding talks with key organisations in the city on ways to to cut the amount of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere.

It hopes to draw up details of a document to be signed in September.

So far the council has approached bus firm Stagecoach Oxfordshire, Oxford Brookes University and community environment group Low Carbon West Oxford.

The Oxford Strategic Partnership, which represents key organisations and businesses, met on Friday to debate a proposed target of reducing emissions in the city by three per cent each year.

John Tanner, the council’s executive member for a cleaner, greener city, said: “We want to create a Low Carbon Oxford. We will be one of the first cities to take this step.

“It is estimated Oxford produces one million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

“We would like to reduce that total by at least three per cent every year.

“To do so, we’re approaching 10 or 12 key organisations to sign up to the agreement to reduce their carbon footprint by the same amount.

“We expect other organisations to join up in due course and then householders and schools could come on board.

“The green economy is coming, whether we like it or not. This will be Oxford’s contribution to saving the planet.”

Cutting the city’s emissions by three per cent would equate to a reduction of 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The reduction would be achieved if, on average, every individual in Oxford drove their cars 30 fewer miles each month.

One tonne of carbon dioxide is measured at 556,000 litres — about the volume of a three-bedroom house.

Mr Tanner said: “Most organisations can save money by switching off power, putting in insulation, measuring how much gas and electricity they use and cutting vehicle journeys.

“These are the first and cheapest steps to reduce your carbon footprint, whether you’re a car factory or an individual home.

“After taking these initial steps, you can start to be more imaginative and build wind turbines and use electric cars and solar panels.

“The pathfinder organisations could save hundreds of thousands of pounds in just a few years.”

He spoke about the green treaty plan during a visit to see new council houses being built in Rivermead Road and Mortimer Road, Rose Hill, to replace outdated prefabricated Orlit houses.

The new houses are being fitted with solar panels on their roofs.

Mr Tanner would not reveal the full list of organisations being approached, but they are thought to include the Oxford Bus Company, the BMW Mini plant and NHS trusts.

He added: “Discussions will be taking place in the next few weeks so that a declaration can be made at the end of the summer to kick-start a major reduction in the city’s carbon footprint.”

Low Carbon West Oxford has secured almost £1m of funding for green energy projects in the past two years.

The group, set up in the wake of the July 2007 floods, plans to install solar panels at the King’s Centre community church, in Osney Mead, and at the Aldi supermarket, in Botley Road.

The group also wants to put up a 50ft-tall wind turbine on Harcourt Hill.

Chairman Ruth Mayne said: “The city council has approached us and we’re really interested in discussing the potential of this scheme with them.”

Environmental activist and author Chris Goodall, from Summertown, added: “This sounds like an excellent idea.

“A three per cent annual reduction is an achievable target for any organisation.

“An organisation like the NHS primary care trust could achieve that by providing better insulation in its buildings, new boilers, better central heating controls and new windows.

“The developed world needs to reduce its emissions by three per cent a year for decades to come.”

Harriet Waters, sustainability manager for Oxford Brookes University, said: “We look forward to working in partnership with other Oxford organisations on reducing the city’s carbon emissions.”

BMW spokesman Angela Stangroom said: “So far we have not been approached.”