Have You Heard About Oxford?…

News in relation to climate change is often directing our attention to the negative effects that our species as a whole is inflicting upon our environment; and never has this more so been the case than in the ‘Trump era’ that we currently find ourselves in. However, although it can sometimes seem that there is no hope for the little planet that we call home, it is important to remember that huge efforts are being made to reverse the damage that is being done by some.

Consider Oxford. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the British city? For most of us, the reputation of its world-renowned university is the first thought, but soon it will also be looked to as a model for other cities to consider when trying to reduce their own carbon emissions.

This is due to plans being implemented to phase out polluting vehicles from the city centre by 2020, which would result in the centre becoming the world’s first zero emissions zone. The proposals aim to slash air pollution in the historic university city, which has seen levels of the harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide plateau above legal limits in some areas.

Under the plans, which are being put out for consultation on Monday, the ban would be introduced in phases, starting with preventing non-zero emissions taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles and buses on a small number of streets in 2020. As vehicle technology develops, the zero emissions zone would extend to cover all vehicle types, including HGVs, and the whole of the city centre by 2035, according to the joint proposals by Oxford city council and Oxfordshire county council. The introduction of the zero emissions zone could see levels of nitrogen dioxide, much of which comes from traffic fumes, particularly diesel engines, fall by up to three quarters by 2035.

The city has already won £500,000 of government funding to install charging points for electric taxis, and £800,000 to install 100 electric vehicle charging points for residents, but officials say more will be needed to support the zero emissions zone. Other schemes being considered to support the zone include reduced parking fees for electric vehicles, electric taxi-only ranks and electric delivery vehicle-only loading areas.

So congratulations to Oxford for making these huge steps towards sustainability; and ultimately towards the longevity of not just the human race, but every other species of animal on our planet.

By Arjun Sahota