New report has ‘good news’ for Oxfordshire’s economy | University of Oxford

New report has ‘good news’ for Oxfordshire’s economy

4 December 2014

An expected demand for low carbon goods and services over coming decades will be good news for Oxfordshire’s economy, says a new report. It suggests that the low carbon sectors in the county’s economy could grow by around £1.35 billion a year by 2030, creating around 11,000 new jobs, if a coordinated effort is made to bring in investment of up to £300 million per year.

The report says this might sound like a lot of money, but the county’s low carbon sectors already generate over £1 billion a year in sales (around 7% of Oxfordshire’s economy), and employ almost 9,000 people. Oxfordshire is best known for its innovation in building technologies, alternative fuels, alternative fuel vehicles, as well as solar power and wind energy technologies, says the report.

The research was carried out by the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute with Low Carbon Oxford, a network of organisations working towards a low carbon economy. They identify the Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) as a key player for developing a strategy for developing Oxfordshire’s economy. LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan has already described Oxfordshire as an outstanding knowledge-based economy, because of its world-class universities, innovative technology companies and research and development centres.

Report co-author Dr Gavin Killip, from Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute, said: ‘Oxfordshire is a market leader in low carbon goods and services so a global drive towards decarbonisation means that the county’s economy could be in line for a substantial boost. As well as highlighting the economic benefits, our report identifies some of the potential problems, such as housing and traffic congestion, offering different scenarios for our future. With investment, innovation and vision will come much greater benefits. We hope this report stimulates the debate about how we make this county a decent place to live and work in by 2030.’

Dr Barbara Hammond, Director of Low Carbon Oxford and Chief Executive of the Low Carbon Hub, said: ‘For the first time Oxfordshire has an evidence-based vision of a low carbon future. The report shows how the return on low carbon investment is positive for the county, as well as providing a blueprint of how we can create a future with economic growth, extra jobs, smart infrastructure, energy resilience and a sustainable quality of life. Partnerships and a commitment to learning are key to success, and we are already taking positive steps in the right direction.’

Traffic congestion on the roads and railways is highlighted as ‘the biggest and most politically charged challenge for Oxfordshire’. Substantial growth in housing and commercial development is planned in Oxford city and the rest of the county, which the report says will only increase these pressures, particularly at peak times. The researchers estimate that Oxfordshire currently spends over £1bn per year on fossil fuels and suggests how this could be significantly reduced. It says Oxfordshire’s new transport links, built to be smart and low carbon, could support the innovative low carbon sectors and also act as local ‘living laboratories’ to test the market in low carbon ideas.

Co-author Dr Nick Eyre, from the University of Oxford’ s Environmental Change Institute, said: ‘I think this report shows that key players in the county will need to work together to make this happen. There will need to be innovators and investors willing to put money into research and development, and into building the infrastructure.’

Co-author Dr Christian Brand, a Senior Research Fellow in Transport, Energy and the Environment from the University of Oxford, said: ‘Transport currently accounts for 37% of total carbon emissions in the county as compared with the UK average of 29%. We need a proper debate about how different partners in the county come together to invest in cleaner vehicles and promote public transport, cycling and walking.’

To arrange interviews or for more information or a copy of the report, contact the University of Oxford News Office at +44 (0)1865 280534 or email: news.office@admin.ox.ac.uk

Alternatively, contact Low Carbon Oxford via Jenny Carr at Oxford City Council +44 (0)1865 252564 or Georgina Matthews at the Low Carbon Hub +44 (0)1865 246099.

Notes to Editors:

The report will be launched at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School on Monday 8 December at 5pm. Media are invited to the launch.

There will be more than 60 registered attendees from various stakeholder groups in Oxfordshire including representatives from Oxford city council, Oxfordshire county council and district councils; businesses (including Oxford Bus company); and researchers from the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University.

The speakers at the event are:

1. Lynn Shepherd, Chair of Venturefest Oxford

2. Cllr John Tanner, Cleaner Greener Board Member, Oxford City Council

3. Prof Sir Chris Llewellyn-Smith, Director of Energy Research, University of Oxford

4. Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council

Alternatively, contact the University of Oxford news office to arrange interviews with the report authors and to receive an embargoed copy of the report in advance. 

  • The Environmental Change Institute organises and promotes interdisciplinary research on the nature, causes and impact of environmental change and contributes to the development of management strategies for coping with future environmental change. The ECI has developed an international track record for research in climate, ecosystems and energy. It is responding to the challenges in these areas through an interdisciplinary and integrated programme of understanding processes of change; exploring sustainable solutions; and influencing change through education and partnership. http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/information/about.php
  • Low Carbon Oxford is a network that brings together organisations from the private, public and not for profit sectors to collaborate on Oxford’s transformation to a sustainable and inclusive low carbon economy. Members include Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, MINI Plant Oxford, Oxfam, Unipart and both Universities. It was established in 2010 by the Oxford Strategic Partnership; receives its core-funding from Oxford City Council and is managed by the Low Carbon Hub. For more information, go to www.lowcarbonoxford.org
  • Examples of low carbon technology in Oxfordshire include: hybrid buses on the Oxford Bus Company Park and Ride service; Oxford University research into new perovskite technology for solar photovoltaics; Osney Lock Hydro- a community-owned renewable energy project on the River Thames; Westmill Cooperative Ltd – a wind farm and solar park; Electric Mini trials.
  • The report has been supported by a steering group which included representatives from the city and county councils, the city’s two universities, businesses represented by the Oxford Bus Company, NGOs and communities. The report has been written by the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute and Low Carbon Oxford, with support from Vivid Economics. It was supported financially by Oxfordshire County Council and Santander.