ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners are celebrating after Oxford City Council declared a 'climate emergency' in the city.

At a full council meeting on Monday night, the Green Party motion  was unanimously backed, alongside a motion opposing the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway proposals.

The motion (partially amended by Labour) said that as well as declaring the emergency, the council would 'continue to call on Westminster to provide the necessary powers and resources to make local action on climate change easier'; 'encourage' the council to establish a Citizens Assembly to make recommendations (on climate); and 'continue to work with partners across the city and region to deliver widespread carbon reductions.'

Ahead of the vote, councillor heard a passionate speech from 15-year-old Oxford resident Linnet Drury. 

Green party group leader Craig Simmons, who proposed the motion, said: “The climate crisis is an emergency that requires actions at all levels of government; local, regional and national. What the climate scientists tell us is that we need is to act quickly to reduce our carbon emissions.

Video: Zoe Broughton, Undercurrents

"We need to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. This is an extremely challenging – but achievable – goal. But this motion is not something this Council should vote for lightly. We have a duty to ourselves, our residents and businesses and to the wider world to not only declare a Climate Emergency but to deliver real change. The hard work starts here.”

The Oxford Times:

All pictures: Mati Warwick

Tom Hayes, Oxford City Councillor and Executive Board member for a Safer and Greener Environment, said: "Every day the blanket of pollution traps more heat energy in the lower atmosphere than would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. When the most powerful person in the world denies climate change from the White House, and we have just twelve years to stop the worst effects of a warming planet, it can feel challenging to tackle global warming at a local level.

"That’s why it’s important to note the good carbon reduction work of the council to show that positive local change can happen. But, it’s also important to step up our drive to carbon neutrality as well as zero harmful emissions, and I’m looking forward to working with our citizens and campaigners."

The Oxford Times:

Environmental campaigner Chris Church welcomed the news but said: "This is just one small step on the part to a carbon-neutral economy and the hard work starts here."

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Speaking ahead of the announcement, Al Chisholm from Fossil Free Oxfordshire explained: "We are on the brink of climate breakdown so Oxford City must follow other councils in declaring a climate emergency."

READ AGAIN: Green activists back council on Expressway and climate motions

Extinction Rebellion's Ben Kenward also 'applauded' the council's support of the two motions.