The Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership Roadmap and Action Plan 

Zcop brand assets
Zcop brand assets


Zero Carbon Oxford Partners are committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions for the city by 2040, surpassing the UK Government’s 2050 target. 

Recognising the urgency of the Climate Emergency, Oxford aims to lead proactively. Collaborating with Oxford City Council and the Carbon Trust, the Partnership developed a roadmap and action plan, engaging key sectors for a comprehensive approach. Partner collaboration, data contribution, and scenario validation were integral to the process, ensuring a well-informed and ambitious strategy. Sector-themed workshops further enriched the action plan with collaborative ideation. 

We are working to make information about our Roadmap and Action Plan as accessible as possible. To discuss your accessibility needs, please contact us at [email protected]

Baseline emissions and scenario modelling 

To formulate an effective strategy, ZCOP initially analysed the city’s current emissions profile and developed a scenario outlining the necessary scale of emissions reduction.

The scenario modelling presents a decarbonisation pathway, aligning with the 2040 net-zero goal across various emission sources. It incorporates up-to-date information on national, local, and regional policies, technological advancements, and energy scenarios, reflecting insights from extensive engagement with ZCOP partners. The sector-based approach in scenario modelling outlines key milestones and actions from 2020 to 2050.

This evidence-based approach facilitates informed decision-making and encourages ambitious actions from all partners. Achieving a net-zero Oxford by 2040 requires a significant increase in climate action. Collaboration with the national government is essential, necessitating clear leadership, policy frameworks, regulatory support, and funding. 


The Zero Carbon Oxford decarbonisation roadmap is directly shaped by scenario modelling, establishing key sector milestones and a timeline for achieving net zero by 2040. 

These roadmaps, spanning domestic, commercial, industrial, institutional, and transport sectors, break down the net zero vision into actionable 5-year plans. The strategic roadmap aligns sectoral decarbonisation requirements with national and regional changes, providing a comprehensive reference for the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership to allocate focus and guide actions. 

Publishing ZCO Net-Zero Action Plan
Launching 'Sprint Groups'
End of 'Local Energy Oxfordshire'
Zero Emissions Zone full rollout
Overall reduction in Oxford's emissions of 46%
by 2025
Review target
Regulation of commercial & industrial waste
Oxford City Council achieves zero emissions.
Oxfordshire County Council reduces emissions by 50%.
Overall reduction in Oxford's emissions of 64%
by 2030
Review target
Start developing strategy for 2040 residual emissions
University of Oxford net-zero carbon and biodiversity net gain
by 2035
Review target
Oxford Local Plan ends
Oxford Health achieve net-zero emissions.
87% reduction in domestic emissions.
86% reduction in commercial emissions.
91% reduction in institutional building emissions.
92% reduction in transport emissions.
86% reduction in industrial carbon emissions from 2018 levels.
Overall reduction in Oxford's emissions of 89%.
by 2040
Implement strategy for 2040 residual emissions
Net Zero Oxford

Action Plan

The Action Plan provides a clear initial direction and series of steps for the ZCO Partnership to follow to set Oxford on a path to net zero by 2040.

It lays out a pipeline of near-term and mid-term priority actions for the partnership to consider and drive forwards using Sprint Groups. It offers a starting point around which to build momentum and galvanise partners, as opposed to an exhaustive list of all actions required to achieve the 2040 net zero Oxford target. This action plan has been developed specifically for the ZCO Partnership to own and implement.

The full report sets out more detail on the concept, funding sources, implementation steps, owners, costs, carbon savings, dependencies, and risks of the actions. In addition to the 21 key action concepts for progression by the partnership (summarised below), wider suggestions from partners have also been included in the full report, as well as themes that will require further consideration and focus between 2030-2040. 

Engaging with local policy development
  • Explore opportunities to build-on the Local Plan to go beyond Part L building regulations, across energy efficiency, fossil-fuel heating, private car usage, and accessible waste disposal.
  • Investment cost: £97,000 This reflects the per annum pro-rata part-time salary of an Oxford City Council officer-grade resource, who can support delivery for 4 years (from 2022 till the adoption of the revised Local Plan in 2025).
  • Carbon impact: 4 ktCO2e The carbon impact estimate has been calculated based on improving the energy efficiency of new builds only, and does not on top of those expected from existing Local Plan policy RE1 (26 ktCO2e).
  • By 2025

Streamlining retrofit within conservation areas  
  • Improve understanding of heritage and conservation related constraints to retrofitting the building stock of the city, through pilots, demonstrations, and technical advice and support for householders and installers/suppliers.
  • By 2025 
Developing template retrofit buildings 
  • Tackling the lack of real-world information (both on technical performance and business case) around different building retrofit options, and how to deliver them by demonstrating measures and the retrofit process.
  • Investment cost: £94,000 This reflects the pro-rata part-time salary of an Oxford City Council officer-grade resource, who would oversee delivery for 1 year, as well as capital investment required across four template buildings.
  • Carbon impact: 8.7 tCO2e The direct carbon impact results from the retrofitting of the four buildings. However, the aim is for the templates to spark an acceleration of similar retrofits, particularly amongst Council-owned stock. This is uncertain and harder to quantify. Oxford City Council owns 14% of Oxford’s housing stock (~8,700 dwellings), retrofitting this number to the same level as the templates would result in carbon savings of 16 ktCO2e.
  • By 2025
Establishing building stock inventory and pipeline  
  • Develop detailed building stock inventory for Oxford, especially filling in the commercial building stock data gap. This could provide the information basis for local area energy planning, where detailed modelling of different heat, energy efficiency and flexibility technologies are assessed at address-level, to inform a programme of action.
  • By 2025
Whole system network review
  • SGN and SSEN (Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks) to scope and undertake whole system review to establish ability to deliver the required energy within key timelines.
  • By 2025
Mini-hydrogen network feasibility study 
  • Conduct a feasibility study on a mini hydrogen network in Oxford, bringing together interested parties to map out the different potential use-cases for hydrogen across the city. (Initial discussions have brought together two ZCOP partners with local gas network provider SGN to collaborate on this.)
  • By 2025
Bulk-buying scheme for solar PV and heat pumps 
  • Set up a bulk buying scheme for low carbon equipment (solar PV and heat pumps) to enable local businesses, organisations, and households to benefit from lower bulk purchase prices.
  • Investment cost: £48,000 This reflects the pro-rata part-time salary of an Oxford City Council officer-grade resource, who would oversee delivery for 2 years. However, if the scheme’s delivery were fully outsourced to an external organisation (such as Solar Together) resource costs would likely be reduced. The expected private investment cost (end-users purchasing the equipment) is £7.6 million this includes purchases of solar PV units by domestic and commercial users, and ASHP (air source heat pumps) units by domestic users. Larger commercial ASHPs are not included as they need to be highly tailored to the building, and therefore are less suited to bulk-buying.
  • Cost saving impact: £3.2 million Bulk-buying provides a 31% cost saving for solar PV units, and a 26% cost saving for ASHP units. The total cost saving is spread across 1,200 households and 200 businesses.
  • Carbon impact: 31 ktCO2e The direct carbon impact results from the avoided emissions of solar PV replacing grid electricity consumption, and ASHPs reducing gas consumption. This is totalled over a 21-year equipment lifespan, accounting for UK grid decarbonisation.
  • By 2025
Greening last-mile delivery
  • Pilot urban consolidation centres around the edge of Oxford. Develop a quiet deliveries scheme.
  • By 2025 
Domestic retrofit programme
  • Establishing a programme to scale domestic retrofit across social and private housing. Extending and building on the delivery experience and expertise of LCH’s Cosy Homes programme, and relevant Action Plan actions
  • 2025-2030
SME sustainability support and interest-free loans 
  • Building on the technical assistance approach developed by OxFutures and further refined by ESOx (Energy Solutions Oxfordshire), by combining it with sustaining financial incentives to drive higher retrofit uptake amongst SMEs.
  • By 2025 
Establishing campus-scale integrated energy systems 
  • Identify potential ‘energy campus’ areas within Oxford (e.g. universities, colleges, businesses, science parks), taking account of considerable heritage limitations, and explore the potential for cost-optimised energy system transformation, establishing joined-up generation, storage, and demand management.
  • 2025-2030
Deploying EV (Electric Vehicle) charging infrastructure
  • Install EV charging infrastructure across a strategically selected series of sites (spanning car club locations, light commercial vehicle parking and deprived districts).
  • By 2025 
Improving bus journey times and regularity 
  • Bring together Oxford’s bus operators to identify the key ‘pinch points’ currently slowing bus routes and disruptive service regularity. Discuss these with the Oxford City Council planning and transport teams with an aim to developing implementable trunk-route solutions that improve bus journey times in and out of Oxford and make buses the priority mode.
  • 2025-2030
ZCOP Strategic communication plan
  • Develop a centralised plan for communicating with Oxford residents and businesses to ensure a clear and consistent communication approach from the ZCOP.
  • By 2025
Public dashboard for monitoring ZCOP progress
  • Create an online public dashboard to communicate progress against decarbonisation objectives.
  • 2025-2030
Knowledge transfer platform
  • An Oxford Knowledge Transfer Partnership, matching up academics with businesses that require this expertise, as well as businesses with other businesses they can learn from.
  • By 2025
Active travel commitments
  • ZCOP partners to commit to supporting the Connecting Oxford and Zero Emissions Zone interventions, which are critical to freeing up the roads for cycling access Partners to lead by example by installing active travel support infrastructure and measures.
  • Costs Birmingham provided up to £10,000 to schools to cover the costs of: secure cycle parking, showers, workbenches, bikes for staff use, bikes for cycle training and accessories (locks, lights, helmets, tools).
  • Impacts Annual economic benefits are estimated at between £600-640 per additional cyclist on urban roads.
  • By 2025
Joint lobbying strategy
  • A significant amount of additional central government support (whether policy, regulation, or funding) is required if Oxford is to achieve its net zero 2040 target. An advocacy strategy should be developed focused on key asks. 
    By 2025 
  • Joint funding applications
  • Funding applications that bring together several partners and offer scale are often more likely to be successful. The ZCOP offers a potential umbrella under which the key players in Oxford can be brought together to plan and submit funding applications that will benefit the city.
  • By 2025
Collaboration with the education sector on low carbon skills
  • Develop a suite of joined-up low carbon training and re-training courses across educational establishments. This should include offering green apprenticeship and vocational courses for sought after retrofit skills across education providers (certified by appropriate bodies), green ‘year in industry’ opportunities to foster links with Oxford’s commercial and industrial sector, and building-on existing successes such as the Abingdon & Witney College Green Construction Centre.
  • Costs Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is delivering a three-year Health and Care Work Academy programme in partnership with a local college, which will support 2,100 clients at an average cost of £2,482 per client. The programme was funded by a £5.2m bid to the Department for Work & Pensions.
  • Impacts Since its inception in 2018, 567 learners have joined the programme, with 107 now working in the sector. 
  • By 2025 
Priming the low carbon retrofit supply chain 
  • Gather partners and wider parties who are aiming to complete ambitious retrofit programme to issue demand signals, via advance notices, to encourage retrofit companies to invest in upskilling and accreditation.
  • By 2025 
Accelerating innovative cleantech deployment in industry 
  • Matchmaking industrial facilities and commercial actors with innovations from local industrial and large commercial businesses and cleantech/ innovation companies.
  • By 2025 
Strengthening domestic grid connections
  • Digitalisation of domestic grid connection information to provide better information on grid capacities and need for reinforcement.
  • By 2025
Exploring funding options
  • Investigate funding options available to the ZCOP to implement the action plan pipeline.
  • By 2025 
Engaging with flexibility markets
  • Encourage ZCOP partners to show Oxford-wide leadership and develop their experience of grid energy flexibility by engaging with innovations such as the new flexibility market created by Project LEO, or through consumer focussed interventions such as time-of-use tariffs.
  • By 2025

Next steps

The roadmaps offer specific milestones, acknowledging the need for flexibility due to evolving factors in decarbonsiation.

Emphasising a ‘level of effort’ approach for net zero requirements allows adaptability to changing circumstances. Focusing on nearer-term periods (up to 2025 and 2030) prioritizes practical progress over a rigid path. Periodic reviews (at least every 5 years) support adjustments based on evolving conditions, ensuring progress towards the 2040 net zero target. 

The action plan outlines immediately actionable tasks for ZCOP, with the creation of sprint groups for collaborative implementation. These groups, formed around specific actions and relevant partners, disband upon completion, fostering agility and maintaining fresh momentum.

Achieving the ambitious net zero target depends on increased national-level support. ZCOP will coordinate joint lobbying and funding applications to secure necessary assistance and address the current policy deficit.

Certain actions require broader collaboration beyond current partners. All Oxford communities, organisations, and businesses are encouraged to commit to emission reduction and explore collaborative opportunities for achieving net zero.

ZCOP Industrial Decarbonisation - Roadmap and Action Plan 

Overall around a fifth (17%) of Oxford’s emissions are related to industry, with 66% of the city’s industrial processes running on gas.

The Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership Roadmap also identifies that in order to achieve the 2040 target, there is a need to reduce industrial energy demand by 45% and electrify 50% of industrial processes.

Oxford’s industry sector has a global impact and reach, but is made up of over 350 relatively small and diverse industrial sites over the city, and a few larger ones. Therefore, the unique needs of each site and potential to work collaboratively needs to investigated.

Industry can benefit from collaborative partnerships in a number of ways, including the sharing of costs across multiple sites, gaining access to a larger pool of resources, and achieving a greater scale of support as they look to reduce emissions.

The successful £265,000 bid from Local Industrial Decarbonisation Plans (LIDP) will expand on the initial Zero Carbon Oxford roadmap to create an industry specific roadmap and action plan. This will include the suitability of different technologies, practicalities, cost implications, co-benefits, and resourcing needs across the different industries in Oxford. 

Oxford City Council, which will lead the project on behalf of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership, will be working closely with partners from BMW, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire Greentech, and Unipart.

The funding will help support Oxford City Council and partners to:

  • Develop a strategic industry decarbonisation roadmap that outlines the best way for organisations to work together and act individually to decarbonise industry in Oxford.
  • Establish a group within the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership for relevant industry organisations to work together to deliver the action plan.
  • Increase the ability of organisations locally to deliver projects within the industry roadmap.

The project is underway and will run till December 2024.

Updates will be posted on our Our Work page. Contact [email protected] if your Oxford based organisation would like to be involved.