Local action must mirror UN climate efforts

International efforts to tackle climate crisis should be matched at the local level, the leader of Cherwell District Council says.

Published: Friday, 29th October 2021

solar panels and a setting sun

The 26th United Nations Climate Change conference gets going on 31 October and is one of the last chances for countries to agree solutions to keep the global temperature increase from reaching two degrees centigrade.

Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “Expectations for COP26 are extremely high as the nations come together in Glasgow. As much as we all expect world leaders to set us on the right path, local authorities everywhere also have a duty to seize the initiative in the fight against the climate crisis.

“At Cherwell District Council we are accelerating our efforts to make all of our operations zero carbon by 2030. We are on the verge of a big step towards that goal, cutting the impact of heating our leisure centres and other buildings, to the extent that our overall carbon footprint will soon be reduced by around 22 per cent.”

In March the council announced that it had won £6 million from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and would be using it to slash the environmental impact of heating its leisure centres – and other corporate buildings, including Thorpe Lane Depot, Banbury Museum and Franklins House.

This work involves installing air source heat pumps and other climate-friendly improvements at the buildings. It will also see solar panels installed at Drayton pavilion and solar array carports going in at Bicester Leisure Centre. Carports are canopies over car park spaces, which have solar panels on them. They will generate electricity for the leisure centre.

Cherwell will soon be appointing contractors to carry out the work, with the goal of completing it by the end of March 2022.

The council earlier this year awarded grant funding to study the potential for zero carbon heat networks in the district. A heat network is a system of insulated pipes that takes heat from a central source and delivers it to a number of domestic or non-domestic buildings. They can reduce the carbon emissions from heating buildings on a large scale.

Other recent significant steps include the launch of Oxfordshire’s first park and charge electric vehicle hub in Bicester, and the council becoming a signatory of UK100’s Net Zero Pledge.

UK100 is a network of local government leaders working together to accelerate the transition to clean energy.

The pledge demonstrates the ambition and ability of democratically elected local leaders to deliver Net Zero. It is also intended to create the conditions for stronger climate action at national level to help local authorities reach Net Zero faster.

Cllr Wood added: “We are proud to have joined UK100 and signed the Net Zero Pledge this month. It will enable us to work closely and share best practice with other local authorities and policy experts who share our ambition, and it is a sign of the importance we place on our commitment to tackle the climate crisis.”

Get the latest news direct to your inbox

Sign up for Cherwell Link