Green Councillor Lois Muddiman represents Oxford City Osney and St Thomas WardMore about Lois
At the Council Meeting of the 2nd of October, Green Councillors Lois Muddiman and Emily Kerr put forward a motion for Oxford City Council to establish a Climate Emergency Centre. This will be a space in which residents can learn more about the climate crisis, its impacts, and solutions, can discuss their concerns about the future, and access support and advice on the steps they can take. After some discussion, the City Council voted in support of the Green motion.
One of the main demands of the Oxford Citizens Climate Assembly, held in autumn 2019, was for more education and information to be provided to the wider public. The Assembly members emphasised in particular that there was a need for residents to understand what they themselves can do to mitigate their impacts, and then to have support of the City Coucil to do so. In the years since there has been some progress on this goal, but not enough. In particular, there is a desperate need to support residents to retrofit homes and address to the poor energy efficiency ratings of most housing in Oxford.
There is a clear need for a highly visible Oxford hub for information about the climate emergency, and several other towns in the UK have created Climate Emergency Centres to serve just such a purpose.
The full text of the motion carried by the City Council vote is below (see in context of the Council Meeting minutes here).
In January 2019, Oxford City Council members unanimously declared a climate emergency and agreed to create a citizens’ assembly in Oxford to help consider new carbon targets and additional measures to reduce emissions. The Oxford Citizens Assembly on Climate Change was duly held over two weekends in September and October 2019.
One of the headline findings of Oxford Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change in 2019 was: ‘a demand for more education and information provided for the wider public…to help them understand what they can personally do to help’.
Across Oxford, excellent work has been done to meet this demand over the past 20 years. For example, the work of all the groups in the CAG* project founded in 2001 and the many projects being undertaken by members of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership formed in 2021, (replacing the Low Carbon Oxford network launched in 2011).
Despite all this work to educate, inform and engage the public, it is clear from the demands of the Citizens’ Assembly that we are still not doing enough. On housing alone, we urgently need to support residents to retrofit their homes to tackle fuel poverty, rising energy costs, and the climate emergency because approximately 60% of homes in Oxford still have an energy efficiency rating of D or below.
The Low Carbon Hub, the various local Low Carbon groups, the county run https://www.climateactionoxfordshire.org.uk/and Cosy Homes Oxfordshire offer advice and services but they are not accessible enough to the public. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, Oxford needs a highly visible Climate Emergency Centre (CEC). A CEC is a central, inclusive and accessible space where residents and groups can meet to share and gain information on the climate and ecological emergencies, and develop local solutions for nature recovery, climate mitigation and adaptation. Through the CEC, residents could:
There are lots of examples of Climate Emergency Centres across the UK from Leeds to Lewes, Preston to Portsmouth, and in Guildford, Islington, Kingston and Northampton as well as more locally in Abingdon and Swindon. The creation of a CEC in the middle of the city would increase public engagement of all the existing groups, organisations and projects in the city and enhance the public realm in the city centre.
This council therefore resolves to request the cabinet member for zero carbon and climate justice and the cabinet member for finance and asset management to: