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Financing the Transition: Harnessing UK Cities Ambition for Clean Energy

Financing the Transition: Harnessing UK Cities Ambition for Clean Energy

Posted on 4th October 2017

A response to UK100’s report from Cllr John Tanner, Oxford City Council

Oxford City Councillor John Tanner recently attended the parliamentary launch of UK100’s report “Financing the Transition: Harnessing UK Cities Ambition for Clean Energy”

The UK100 is a highly ambitious network of local government leaders, which seeks to devise and implement plans for the transition to clean energy that are ambitious, cost effective and take the public and business with them.

The study highlights the work on clean energy of Cornwall, Nottingham, Bristol and others. The UK100 network embraces more than 70 local leaders, including Cllr Bob Price in Oxford, who have made a commitment to shift their communities to 100% clean energy.

Cllr Tanner says:

Clean energy is not only compatible with economic growth, it is actually a key driver of green sustainable development. That is the conclusion of ‘Financing the Transition’, the latest report from Polly Billington and her UK:100 low-carbon cities.

Local councils often don’t have the expertise to get private finance for risky clean-energy projects. But a special pot of private money, backed by Government, could help both local councils and investors to build a low-carbon future.

City leaders could seize the combined opportunities of the plummeting costs of renewables and the devolution agenda to make the shift to clean energy a reality across Britain. The all-party report was launched in the House of Commons on September 13th.

As Oxford City has shown it is still possible for town halls to get finance from Government and through crowd-funding to invest in clean renewable energy. Financing the Transition calls for a partnership to access private funding too for local councils.

Polly Billington says she is looking forward to engaging with Ministers at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The report was commissioned by Cllr Judith Blake, Labour leader of Leeds and Cllr John Holdich, Tory leader of Peterborough.

The study highlights the work on clean energy of Cornwall, Nottingham, Bristol and others.  The UK100 network embraces more than 70 local leaders, including Cllr Bob Price in Oxford, who have made a commitment to shift their communities to 100% clean energy.

Cllr John Tanner, Oxford’s City Council’s Board Member for a Clean & Green Oxford          

The UK 100 report is available here:


Grab a slice of Leftover Pie

Grab a slice of Leftover Pie

Posted on 6th September 2017

Oxfordshire’s very own zero waste hero Anna Pitt published her second major book earlier this month, and it’s all about reducing food waste.

Leftover Pie shows you the importance of food waste reduction and gives practical ideas and solutions to this major world problem. Tracing the history of food waste over the last 100 years, the book looks at how we have arrived at a food waste crisis point. Then, without beating ourselves up about it, Leftover Pie shares tips and recipes to help us tackle the problem and make the most of what we have.

With contributions by top chefs, food writers, food bloggers, and food waste campaigners, Leftover Pie shows why loving our leftovers is today’s hot topic.

We caught up with Anna to find out a bit more about what’s inside her Leftover Pie!:

  •  You’ve written a lot about waste reduction – how do you stay so motivated to reduce waste?

I think the best motivation for reducing waste is the buzz I get from getting creative and making my food go further.  In the past, when I have thrown food away, I felt a sense of shame.  All that carbon footprint, energy, water and hard work that went into producing the food and then my own time, effort and hard-earned cash that went into getting it into my kitchen and onto my table all just wasted.  That hurts.

Another thing I really like is that knowing I’m going to get every last bit of goodness out of my food, means that I feel I can buy really good food. I am not afraid to pay a bit more for my food when I know it means it will stretch further, give more nutrition, and more taste.

  • Why did you decide to focus on food waste for your latest book?  What do you hope the book with achieve?

When I was researching my first book, 101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free, I went to see the head of waste and recycling at my local council.  He asked me to tackle food waste first, because it is what makes the biggest difference to them, financially.  I sort of did that with my first book, as I devoted the first chapter to reducing food waste.  But I knew then, from the research I carried out, that it really did need a whole book to itself. That’s why I wrote Leftover Pie.  I hope that Leftover Pie will help people understand why food waste is such a big problem, and then I hope that people will find a few things that they can relate to, so they can take another step towards reducing their food waste, whether they are producing a mountain of waste on a weekly basis or even if they are pretty good with their food but want to get even more from less.

  • Do you think people worry about food waste generally?

I read somewhere that only 3% of people in the UK feel shame at throwing away food.  But that’s not my experience, when I go out and about talking to people about their food.  I think a lot of people worry about the price of food and would like to save money on their weekly shopping.  The best way to do that, is of course to make sure nothing is wasted.  A lot of people think that reducing food waste is beyond their control, because there has been so much publicity about the food waste caused by supermarkets, but in fact 50% of food waste is from within the home.  That means it is food that we have paid for, shopped for, sometimes even prepared and cooked, that is going to waste, which is awful, but on the other hand, it means it is within our control to do something about it.

  • What advice would you give someone who wants to start reducing the amount of food they waste?

My top tip for reducing food waste is simply to buy less.  I think we are all afraid of having nothing left I the fridge at the end of the week.  But with a bit of planning and s good store cupboard repertoire we can change that.  If all we had left in the fridge before a weekly shop was a few eggs and a spring onion, we wouldn’t starve.  Add a tin of baked beans and make an omelette and there’s a meal – tasty and nutritious.  If we get into the habit of buying less and using everything we have before we replenish, there’s less likelihood of finding a yoghurt with a blue fur coat in the back of the fridge.  Check out my blog post for more tips on how to get started with waste reduction on the leftover pie blog:

Leftover Pie: 101 ways to reduce your food waste  is out now on Kindle, 8th September in paperback, available to pre-order now.

OxFutures partnership starts £3.2m European project

OxFutures partnership starts £3.2m European project

Posted on 9th August 2017

Oxford’s Low Carbon Hub has led a winning bid for £1.6 million of European Regional Development funding that will be used to foster low carbon economic development in the county over the next three years.

The funding will be matched with a further £1.6 million, the majority coming from six partners involved in the bid and a strong history of working together. These include five Low Carbon Oxford members – Low Carbon Hub, Oxford City Council, Bioregional, Oxford Brookes University and University of Oxford – along with Cherwell District Council.

Building on the success of OxFutures’ first phase – a four-year EU-funded programme that resulted in £18 million of investments into local renewable energy and energy efficiency projects – the project’s partners will work to increase the number of innovative low carbon businesses by facilitating the sharing of knowledge between academics, local authorities, and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and offering grants for new products, start-ups and energy-efficiency measures. This will ensure that even more of the £1.5 billion that Oxfordshire spends annually on energy stays in the county.

SMEs wanting to apply for grant funding and/or apply for a free energy audit should contact the Low Carbon Hub

New Electric MINI to be built in Oxford

New Electric MINI to be built in Oxford

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Last month, the BMW Group announced that the new battery-electric MINI will go into production in 2019.

The fully electric car will be a variant of the brand’s core 3 door model. The new MINI’s electric drivetrain will be built at the BMW Group’s e-mobility centre in Bavaria before being integrated into the car at Plant Oxford in Cowley.

About 360,000 Minis are made each year, with more than 60% of them built at Oxford. The Cowley Plant is the main production location for the current MINI 3 door model.

Electrification is one of the central pillars of the BMW Group’s corporate strategy and the company has announced that all brands and model series can be electrified, with a full-electric or plug-in hybrid drivetrain being offered in addition to the combustion engine option. Additional electrified models will be brought to market in the coming years and beyond 2020.

Oxford City Council sets out plans for electric taxis in Oxford

Oxford City Council sets out plans for electric taxis in Oxford

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In a further effort to reduce air pollution, Oxford City Council plans to install £500,000 of electric vehicle charging points for taxis and phase out the older, high-emitting hackney cabs from the city.

The City Council is working closely with COLTA (City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association) on the scheme, which will see 19 electric vehicle charging points installed for the exclusive use of hackney and private hire taxis. The charging points will be ‘rapid’ and ‘fast’ chargers to enable drivers to quickly charge batteries during breaks. The aim is to install the first seven in 2018, and the remaining 12 in 2019.

The scheme also sets out, for the first time, the City Council’s future intention to set an 18-year age limit on all hackney carriages operating in Oxford and to require all newly-licenced hackney carriages to be ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

It is hoped that the infrastructure and licensing changes will see nitrogen dioxide emissions from Oxford’s 107 licenced hackney carriages reduced by 50 per cent by 2020. The Government estimates that new electric cabs could also save drivers and owners £2,800 a year in fuel costs compared to conventional black cabs.

The City Council won £370,000 of funding from the Government’s Office for Low Emissions Vehicles for the project.

LCMB Ultimate Business Guide

LCMB Ultimate Business Guide

Posted on 9th June 2017

LCMB Building Performance specialists, a Low Carbon Oxford pathfinder organisation, have published a guide that provides businesses with a structured framework for improving businesses overall performance through estates management. Their aim is to help ensure that buildings and associated budgets deliver the best possible impact for business, their customers and their staff.

Businesses are striving harder than ever to hold on to a sustainable competitive advantage, and attract customers and staff – often while reducing cost.

For most UK businesses buildings are the second biggest expense after staff and present a huge cost saving potential, as confirmed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Any savings from reduced building running costs will drop straight to the bottom line.

Many businesses fail to recognise the tremendous impact – positive or negative – that buildings have on their efficiency, competitive positioning and growth. Businesses that have configured their buildings to align with a robust overall strategy have seen dramatic improvements to their competitive advantage, cost base, finances and environmental sustainability. These benefits may take some time to realise, but can be deep and transformational.

Ignore at your peril the need for a clear plan to optimise your buildings and estate to support your business.

Businesses taking this path should begin by considering the most relevant drivers of change, such as:

Competition and productivity: businesses compete fiercely to attract, impress and inspire customers and staff and stay ahead of their competition. Buildings are often an overlooked and untapped resource that can deliver competitive and productivity improvements.

Increased expectations: customers are increasingly demanding, and businesses should identify how buildings can help them meet and exceed these demands.

Cost advantage: the cost of acquiring and operating real estate continues to rise, with operational and energy costs increasing faster than the rate of inflation. Implementing approaches to deliver better value for money will help a business be more cost competitive.

Rapid pace of change: the pace of technological change in markets and businesses means there’s an opportunity to use buildings and technologies much more imaginatively to support operations and objectives.


Find out more and download the guide from their website:


Oxford Green Week is nearly here!

Posted on 20th April 2017

Oxford Green Week is an annual city-wide festival which uses culture, creativity and community to inspire local people to take action on climate change.

It’s an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the achievements of leading sustainable organisations in our city.

Oxford Green Week started in 2014 with the name Low Carbon Oxford Week and has been become and bigger and better event every year since then – we estimate that over 40,000 people visited events during the 2016 festival. For 2017 we are changing the name of the festival to Oxford Green Week to give it a broader appeal and a title that more easily explains what it’s all about. Oxford Green Week will take place from Saturday 17 to Sunday 25 June 2017 with a big public launch event taking place on Broad Street on Saturday 10 June – the Big Green Day Out!

Visit the official festival website for more details about how to get involved.

LCMB guide for higher education estate management

LCMB guide for higher education estate management

Posted on 13th April 2017

Pathfinder LCMB offer building performance expertise. Their work with a number of universities has shown that Estates Managers are often expected to manage increasingly complex estate operations in laboratories and high tech facilities.  At the same time, safety and compliance requirements are becoming ever more challenging. They also have to factor in a range of different student experience requirements.

LCMB could not find a single guide that provides UK universities with a structured framework for approaching these pressures, so they’ve written their own. The guide takes estate managers through a four steps process to assess, measure, prioritise and take action.

The guide is designed as an estates management and transformation framework to help UK universities;

  • Have more productive, satisfied students and staff
  • Enhance their reputation, and be more impressive in a competitive environment
  • Become more cost and energy efficient
  • Get ready for future demands

Estates professionals at King’s College London and University of the Arts London have praised the guide: “excellent … succinct, challenging and useful”, and Sustainability West Midlands say: “We commend LCMB! …functional and easy to follow, diagrammatic and challenging”.”

Find out more and download the guide from their website:


Low Carbon Oxford Annual Event on Tuesday 28 March

Low Carbon Oxford Annual Event on Tuesday 28 March

Posted on 9th March 2017

You are warmly invited to the Annual Low Carbon Oxford Event from 7pm-9pm on Tuesday 28 March.

This year’s event is at the Vaults and Garden Cafe’s – winner of the first ever Most Sustainable Restaurant Award in the 2016 Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards. The event will feature a keynote speech from owner Will Pouget on his approach to running a sustainable business.

The LCO Annual Event will gather Pathfinder organisations and friends welcome new members, connect with peers, share successes and look forward to the coming year. It will also feature the long-awaited launch of the Route Map to 2020 report which sets out how the city can meet its target of reducing carbon emissions by 40% by 2020.

Click here to register and secure your place

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