Oxford vs. Cambridge

It’s a classic rivalry. Two famous, historical English cities battling it out for the top place in academics, and most importantly, who can row the fastest. But now, do we see a new competition emerging?

As things are hotting up (quite literally, #climatechange) for a move towards a greener future, these two cities are both adopting a more environmentally-friendly view. Will this be another battle of the greats? To tell the truth, any race towards achieving the lowest levels of harmful emissions, is a race we can get behind.

We’re all for encouraging healthy competition, especially if it chivvies along those who have been, shall we say, lagging behind, when it comes to taking climate action seriously.

In the dark blue boat…

Let’s see what Oxford have been up to in terms of tackling their emissions problem. The whole of Oxford was marked as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in 2010. Particular hotspots for poor air quality were identified in the centre, and at busy locations on the ring-road.

Now, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have updated proposals for a Zero Emissions Zone in the city centre. Being implemented in 2020, the ZEZ will initially see restrictions on some vehicle and journey types, gradually expanding to include all vehicles. Private vehicles will not be affected initially, but the possible introduction of a charging scheme in 202223 might be extended to also cover private cars by 2025.

The city is hoping to see its first 100% electric double decker buses operating this year, bringing cleaner options to public transport. Even the city council’s Lord Mayor is showing willing - recently swapping to a hybrid MINI for official business. Hybrid never fills us with complete joy at Electric Blue (why go halfway when you could go all in?) so we’re thrilled that the county council now has a fleet of 12 fully electric vehicles (EVs). Nine of these are used by the fire and rescue service, with the remaining three used as pool cars. Fantastic news!

We’ll be keeping our beady eyes closely on Oxford to see how they continue to tackle their pollution problems. And you’ll soon be able to spot us on the streets there, as we have two rapid chargers being installed in July.

Now the light blues are levelling up…

We’ve been talking a lot about Cambridge recently, due to our growing charger network, and the success of our ethical finance bond offer. You can read about the bond here, which closed on June 30th 2019, and what the funding is going to be developing in the region.

But what else are Cambridge actioning?

The conversation around air quality in Cambridge is focusing heavily on the concentrated areas of emissions, which puts specific groups of vulnerable people at greater risk. Idling outside of schools is a real and growing concern in the city (also across the country, read more here). A “no car zone” pilot is being established around a school to measure the impact of pollution on school children. Hopefully, this pilot will be the first of many.

There’s also discussions in place for a new car-park complex, with 225 public spaces. Excitingly (for us EV nerds!) the proposals include plans to ensure that EV charging is available for every parking space. That’s just the kind of forward-thinking we love, and we await further news of this development with anticipation.

So, it seems like both cities are moving towards a lower-emissions future. Is this a race where we should be backing one over the other? Or could this be a stand for demonstrating how local authorities, councils, decision and policy makers are joining together and presenting a united front. After all, climate change affects us all. Sharing resources and synergetic management of projects all lead to wider-spread accessibility and importantly, greater activity. When it comes to tackling air quality, we would love to see collaboration growing out of competition.

Update:

As of 30th June 2019 our Ethex bond offer is closed. Thank you for all of the support from local community and investors who raised over £480,000 for the Cambridge charger network. We will be publishing a full report on our project work in Cambridge, including the community investment offer and the development of the charger network, so stay tuned for updates to come in the not-too-distant future.

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