***UPDATE OCTOBER 2023: We are pleased to announce that we have reached our original fundraising target. A big thank you to everyone who has contributed. We welcome further donations; any additional funds raised will allow us to extend the scope of project. ***
We are seeking to raise £20,000 to enable a new project, the Oxford Car-Free Challenge, to be developed in partnership with the national climate action group Possible and the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformation (CAST) at Cardiff University. The Oxford Car-Free Challenge will support individuals to try taking a break from their cars for a few weeks – and to use this experience to consider a longer-term move towards more active travel (by which we mean walking, cycling and using public transport).
What’s involved and how the project will benefit active travel in Oxford
The project will involve recruiting twelve volunteer regular car users and supporting them in taking a break from using their cars for three weeks. These individuals will then act as exemplars or mentors to encourage others to take similar steps.
It can feel quite a challenge to reduce our car use, and we want to help people enjoy the experience. We think this project is useful because it will make a practical contribution to helping people make changes in their own lives. We’d like to help create a city where people can enjoy being out and about, and get to where they need to be, without always having to bother with the car. The volume of cars in our streets right now not only creates pollution and poor air quality and makes it difficult and unsafe to move around, but also puts us all at risk from the CO2 emissions created by so many private vehicles. Measures to encourage active travel in the city have won majority support from residents, but have also generated fractious debate and misunderstandings. Residents with high car use are naturally concerned about the impact of changes on their everyday lives, even if they agree on the need for them. This project will help people identify realistic alternatives in a way that is sympathetic, supportive and positive.
The project builds on a successful initiative run by Possible in other UK cities in 2022. Most participants in that initiative found going car-free reduced their weekly travel costs, as well as their carbon emissions. There were other unexpected benefits for participants, such as being able to engage in more relaxed and enjoyable travel with family members. Our project in Oxford will support sustainable travel and reduce car dependency in Oxford – increasingly an issue for many residents in and outside Oxford as we prepare for the introduction of ambitious traffic reduction measures. Further details on the LCON project can be found here, and you can also read the presentation at our AGM in July 2023 by Hirra Khan Adeogun of Possible.
How you can support the project
Possible has already raised part of the funding for the project, and we are now asking our members and supporters to help to fund the remainder. LCON needs to raise £20,000. Donations from trustees and a commitment from our own reserves have raised £5,500, and generous supporters to date have increased this total to £8,260. Can you help us get to the target? Visit our Donate page for details of how to make a contribution.
An opportunity to help an active low-carbon group take a successful project to the next stage
Low Carbon Oxford North are looking for a talented freelance community/events organiser to help us take Housewarming to the next level. Housewarming aims to help homeowners prepare their homes to cut down energy use and phase out fossil fuels. It works through six informative Guides, written especially for Housewarming by an expert in low-energy homes. We also enable people to share experiences through a WhatsApp group and monthly support meetings, which we call Housewarmings.
The opportunity is available from the end of January to 30 September 2023 in the first instance. Working as an independent contractor for up to a day a week, the organiser will focus on supporting the Housewarming programme and expanding its reach significantly.
We look forward to welcoming you to LCON’s public meeting on the evening of 19 July (19.30 – 21.00). As well as holding our formal Annual General Meeting, we will be launching the full suite of Housewarming guides and setting out our plans for Housewarming from September onwards. The meeting is also a chance to express your views and concerns, to tell us how you think we can be as effective as possible, and to explore how you can get involved. Whatever your skills and interests, please come along and take part.
19.40 Annual General Meeting – the formal AGM business. Everyone is welcome; members can vote. Please see information and links to documents below.
20.10Housewarming: Short presentation and discussion
20.30 How to get involved in LCON’s work: small-group activity with trustees
Annual General Meeting
This is the formal notice of LCON’s Annual General Meeting. Everyone is very welcome to attend the whole evening, but voting at the AGM is limited to LCON members. You can check this by following the ‘Update my preferences’ link at the bottom of any of our mailings. If you don’t get mailings from us, sign up here!
The AGM agenda and papers can be found below. The agenda includes links to the documents, including the annual report and accounts (combined in one document), and a proxy form for anyone who cannot attend. We can send a paper copy of the annual report and accounts to anyone who would like one (email us to request this).
If any members cannot attend the AGM, they can appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. This could be any member, including the chair. It helps us a lot if you do this, so if you can’t attend, please download and fill in the proxy form, and return it to Rebecca Nestor by 18 July.
We still have vacancies for new trustees, so if you are interested, please get in touch to find out more. The AGM is not the only opportunity to join the board, as we can co-opt trustees at any time during the year. We are particularly hoping to broaden the diversity of the board and we especially encourage people of colour, younger people and men to consider the role. You don’t need specialist knowledge, though this is always welcome: we want people who live in our community and care about climate change. To find out what is involved and have an informal chat, please contact our chair Rebecca Nestor, or feel free to raise this in the small-group activity on the evening of the AGM.
Two important consultations are taking place right now that will significantly affect Oxfordshire’s ability to respond to the climate crisis. It is important that as many people as possible respond to the consultations and put the case for climate.
The second, for the Ox-Cam Arc, closes on Tuesday 12 October 2021. Friends of the Earth have suggestions on how to respond to this too (it’s the same page as for the Oxfordshire Plan, scroll down to the bottom).
The Covid-19 crisis has led to much reflection on what we value and has given us a unique opportunity to ‘build back better’. Can changes in the food we eat, the energy we use, the way we travel and the way we save and spend money, help in addressing Oxford’s deep inequalities while steering us towards a low carbon future?
Last week Oxford students occupied St John’s College in protest at its £8.1m fossil fuel investments. The students held up placards reading “We can’t eat money or drink oil”, “Fossil Fuels are History” and “Wake up Fossil Fools”. As they endured the overnight cold in their tents, the college’s response included attempts to keep out sleeping bags and blankets, deactivating the students’ key fobs, and a proposal from the Bursar that he could “arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect”. Calling themselves “Direct Action for Divestment“, the campaign group was supported by the Oxford Climate Justice Campaign, XR Oxford and other climate activists.
Increasingly, however, this focus on tree planting is being questioned. Journalist George Monbiot, in particular, has argued that public resources should be directed towards “rewilding” – allowing trees to seed and spread themselves – instead of tree planting. According to Monbiot, rewilding “is much faster and more effective, and tends to produce far richer habitats”. Monbiot draws on work by Simon Lewis and others which suggests that “[commercial] plantations are much poorer at storing carbon than are natural forests, which develop with little or no disturbance from humans”.
Over 100 people joined us on a bright and frosty Saturday morning to plant more trees in North Oxford, as part of National Tree Week. As one of them said – “What a great way to start the day”! Thank you to everyone who came, to Oxford Direct Services who organised the trees and oversaw the event, and to International Tree Foundation, who funded the trees.
Michael Woods from Oxford Direct Services’ Parks Team was up early to prepare the site at Sunnymead Park, and the first volunteers arrived shortly before 10. Soon the park was busy with people of all ages and, under Michael’s expert supervision, 500 trees were planted in record time.
Oxford is taking to the streets. Over 5000 children and adults took part in last Friday’s Global Climate Strike, spilling through Broad Street, Cornmarket and surrounding streets, demanding action. This was followed on Sunday by World Car Free Day, as Broad Street was stripped of its car parking and “given back to the people”.
Now is our chance to build on this and help Oxford become a less congested, healthier and more pleasant city to live and work in, reducing its climate impact as well as air pollution: Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have published ambitious proposals to reduce congestion in Oxford and are inviting the views of residents, commuters and employers. Members of the Coalition on Health Streets and Active Travel, including LCON, will be contributing to the consultation and we encourage everyone to have their say. Find out more, including how you can respond, here. And check out Cyclox and LCON’s Alison Hill’s column in the Oxford Mail.