City of Oxford Adopts Climate Goals

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Article header including City of Oxford logo and words "Climate Goals" over an image of a corn field

Global Covenant of Mayors

After signing onto the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) in 2020, the City of Oxford has continued to make strides towards meeting the goals of this organization.  By joining GCoM, Oxford has teamed up with over 10,000 cities worldwide to reach global net-zero emissions by 2050.  To support these cities in their efforts, GCoM provides 3 major initiatives.

  • Invest4Cities
    • This initiative aims to increase the flow of both public and private-sector investment into funding for urban climate change resilience, or the ability for a system to maintain function despite any issues that climate change may present. It also advocates for more equitable access to funding and removes barriers to developing climate projects that will draw investors.
  • Data4Cities
    • This initiative looks to ensure that data remains transparent, consistent, and high-quality, regardless of the city the data comes from. It also looks to increase accessibility to data and provide a mechanism for analyzing it. This helps city governments understand their own local circumstances as well as the circumstances of cities like them.
  • Innovate4Cities
    • This initiative recognizes the importance of and hopes to achieve community connection and understanding. To achieve this, GCoM holds events that are meant to answer the most pressing questions about emissions reductions: the whys and hows. These events are open to everyone — city leaders, scientists, researchers, academics, youth, business people, and anyone else who may be interested.

Learn more about the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

Formal Goals Set By Council

Oxford has been successful in progressing towards the goals set out by GCoM.  We have already established a Climate Action Steering Committee (CASC), completed an initial resilience assessment, and conducted a community-wide greenhouse gas(GHG) inventory.  At the City Council Meeting on May 18th, 2021, City Council accepted the recommendations of the CASC and adopted formal emission reduction targets.  

City of Oxford Emission Reduction Targets:

  • By 2030: 50% reduction in GHG emissions over 2019 baseline
  • By 2040: 90% reduction in GHG emissions over 2019 baseline.
  • By 2045: Community-wide net neutrality

Note that these targets apply to emissions within the city, excluding Miami University.

The Basis for the Targets

To prepare a set of reasonable goals, the CASC had to go through multiple levels of research and review of climate science. They found that scientists agree upon a 2050 deadline for net neutrality to limit the impacts of climate change. 

In general, the assumptions were centered around there being a national-scale shift to renewable energy in coming years, which may include reduced costs and the introduction of incentives to those who make the switch.  Oxford will not be embarking on this journey alone, but rather with an extra push for renewables nationally. Some local strategies discussed were emphasizing alternative transport, discussing zero-waste policy, continuing to upgrade efficiency, and producing renewable energy.

This resolution was adopted with full support from the City Council and puts Oxford one step closer to developing a climate action plan to meet the established targets. In the meantime, climate meetings will continue to take place involving council members, city staff and boards, Miami University representatives, and community members.

May 18, 2021, City Council Meeting — YouTube (Climate resolution discussion begins at 1:21:02)

More information about what Oxford is doing and what you can do to be more environmentally friendly can be found here.

The research behind the established targets

As part of their research into climate change and resilience, the City of Oxford obtained help from two Miami University student groups. Each of these groups consisted of graduate students enrolled in the  Masters of Environmental Science (mEN).

Team 1: Climate Resilience

This first team made up of 4 students and 1 advisor, aimed to assist both Miami University and the City of Oxford by providing a starting point for resilience assessments that comply with their respective climate commitments. This project was conducted from January 2021 to April 2021. To determine the most pressing climate-related hazards in Oxford, the team held workshops, conducted jointly by Miami University and Oxford, with members of the campus community. At these workshops, the team presented an overview of climate hazards. Breakout sessions in which community members identified the top climate hazards were held next, followed by a full group discussion in which all community members agreed on a list of the Top 4 local hazards and deliberated on the need for more data.

The group as a whole concluded the top 3 hazards were as follows (in no particular order): heat emergencies, drought, flooding, and increased storms in the summer and winter. The groups also agreed on the need for further research regarding how Oxford would handle these hazards and, more generally, the impacts they may have on the community, especially if they were to occur simultaneously.

The student team then used all of these discussions and additional background research to formulate a list of recommendations.

Recommendation 1: Complete a Risk Assessment Table

Using the identified hazards from above, the team suggested further engagement with members of the community to evaluate strengths, risks, and vulnerabilities. The team created a table in Google Sheets to assist with the organization of future discussion points.

Recommendation 2: Collect Additional Data

The team also suggested analyzing humidity and wind data from surrounding weather stations, chiefly Cincinnati (CVG) Airport and Dayton (DAY) Airport, which are approximately equidistant from Oxford. They encouraged meeting with the Miami Conservancy District to discuss rainfall intensity and flood data.  The team also mentioned the possibility of exploring fluctuation in water height at the Four Mile Creek river. Lastly, they proposed evaluating the capacity of local aquifers and sewer systems since demand is increasing. As the temperature continues to rise, individuals and businesses will need increasing amounts of water. This, combined with flood events, has the capacity to stress the Oxford sewage system located off of Four Mile Creek.

Recommendation 3: Prepare Separate Resilience Reports

The final recommendation was for Oxford and Miami to continue to collaborate while also evaluating and maintaining their own reporting requirements. Because Miami’s commitment, Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments (PCLC), and Oxford’s commitment, GCoM, have different requirements, the team suggested that each organization assign one individual to act as the expert for that commitment and fill out their respective reports according to guidelines.

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Team 2: Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

The second team made up of 4 students and 1 advisor, looked at greenhouse gas emissions by scope. Activities that occur within the city have the ability to create emissions both inside and outside of city limits. The multiple scopes were how this team acknowledged these differing levels of impact. The team further broke these results down into Local Government Operations (LGO), which includes all emissions created by the City Government, and the overarching Community Scale (CS), which includes residential, commercial, industrial, and LGO impacts.

A chart breaking down each of the 3 scopes of GHG emissions and examples of what is included in each

Scope 1

Scope 1 includes GHG emissions that come from sources within the city. In this scope, the biggest contribution to emissions from LGO is from solid waste facilities. More broadly on a Community Scale, the two main sources of GHG Emissions are commercial energy and transportation & mobile sources.

Scope 2

Scope 2 involves emissions that occur because of grid-supplied energy in the city. For LGO, the biggest source of emissions is water & wastewater treatment facilities. Looking at CS, the biggest contributor to emissions is commercial energy.

Scope 3

Scope 3 represents emissions that occur outside of city limits because of activity that is happening within city limits. GHG emissions from LGO are mostly attributed to water and wastewater treatment facilities in this scope. CS emissions in Scope 3 were much lower than in the other 2 scopes and were almost exclusively credited to solid waste.

Visuals

A more detailed and visual summary of GHG emissions results by scope can be found here. Local Government Operations results are found in the top graph, while Community-Scale results are found in the bottom graph.

Bar graph showing Local Government Operations Greenhouse Gas emissions in each scope                                                   Bar graph showing Community Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions by scope

Review the entirety of their presentation