ACTION on the climate crisis needs to be taken quickly, county councillors have agreed, but some have criticised plans for the future as being all talk and no substance.

At a full meeting today picketed by Extinction Rebellion, Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) discussed what steps should be taken to tackle the climate crisis locally.

It comes after the authority acknowledged the climate emergency in its April meeting.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, the Conservative council leader, described the need for swifter action on the climate crisis as 'getting our own solar-powered house in order.'

He launched a declaration of the council's commitment to the climate crisis at the meeting called 'Climate Action for a Thriving Oxfordshire.'

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The declaration included the aims of making climate change a priority in all council decisions, and making OCC carbon neutral by 2030.

Mr Hudspeth appealed to councillors of all political allegiances across the chamber.

Banbury Cake:

The aims set out in the Climate Action for a Thriving Oxfordshire declaration. Picture: Oxfordshire County Council.

He said: "Many of the actions are continuations of work we already do, but quicker and better. Working together is the only way we can get this done."

But Mr Hudspeth added he thought the council needed to balance its ambitions for how to tackle climate change with the services it offered to residents in Oxfordshire.

At the April 2 meeting, the council acknowledged the climate crisis and committed to making Oxfordshire County Council carbon neutral by 2030.

It was also agreed that a report would be presented to councillors in six months on what action OCC had already taken on the climate crisis, and what action it would take in the future.

Now in November, seven months later, the report has been made.

While councillors welcomed the action which had been taken so far, many of them said the declaration and the past actions detailed in the report were not enough.

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Labour councillor Emma Turnbull criticised the report for not ringfencing any money for climate change commitments.

She said: "There is nothing in this report which gives any indication of a real financial commitment or a proper timetable for delivering change.

"I am worried this strategy will not deliver the green new deal we need unless you put money on the table."

The report said the council had reduced emissions from its buildings by 41 per cent since 2010 and is also monitoring the carbon emissions which come from the streetlights, buildings and vehicles it owns.

It also said that a Cabinet Action Group had been set up since April, which is currently working to develop a strategy on how to tackle climate change.

The CAG will continue to meet and will set out a costed strategy for the council at some point in the future.

Labour councillor Susanna Pressell raised concerns about how the report did not mention any investment in climate action and said she felt there was a 'lack of a sense of urgency' in it.

Yvonne Constance, cabinet member for the environment, said all councillors would soon be expected to make changes to how they travelled to county hall for meetings.

She said: "We intend to propose ideally a zero emission charge on those of us who do drive to meetings by next year, and with that I am giving you all the warning that you need an electric vehicle to come into the centre of Oxford."

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Oxfordshire County Hall.

Damian Haywood, the Labour councillor who proposed the original motion acknowledging the climate crisis, called for a wider, holistic approach to transport which could provide health and environment benefits.

He told yesterday's meeting: "We need to make sure we deliver this in a liveable way.

"We have a big problem here: I am talking about a public health issue – not just air quality but obesity et cetera. Electric cars will not solve that problem."

The Labour councillor added more needed to be done to provide better cycling routes around Oxfordshire.

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Banbury councillor Eddie Reeves said he wanted to see a 'truly radical strategy' for how to address climate change in the future.

This strategy could include moving the county council out of its city centre headquarters to a new, sustainable building elsewhere, with the 'prime real estate' of county hall used for funding future climate ambitions.

Demonstrators from Extinction Rebellion held a picket outside county hall ahead of yesterday's meeting to press the council for quicker action on climate change.

They also attended the meeting and watched proceedings from the public gallery.