Making the local economic case for low carbon – an Oxfordshire case study

Panel: 3. Local action

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Gavin Killip, Environmental Change Institute, United Kingdom
Nick Eyre, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Christian` Brand, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Julia Patrick, University of Oxford, United Kingdom


The case for a low carbon economy is usually made in terms of the imperative of avoiding dangerous climate change, linked to an analysis showing that overall economic impacts are acceptable, nationally or globally. However, for local economic decision makers, the important factors are more likely to be employment and wealth creation within the local economy. This paper reports a study designed to answers these questions for the County of Oxfordshire in the UK. The analysis considers the impacts of a low carbon transition in creating opportunities for local businesses and research organizations, and its links to the modernization of local infrastructure. It draws on both scenario modelling and case studies of existing initiatives. The results show that a shift to a low carbon economy is consistent with Oxfordshire strengths as a knowledge economy and plans for economic growth, with key sectors for potentially positive impacts being building technologies, alternative fuels and vehicles, and renewable energy technologies, as well as related research and service sectors. These sectors correlate with needs for local infrastructure investment, potentially allowing local schemes to act as a ‘living laboratory’ for innovation. The scale of investment required is large, across research, commercialization and deployment, and therefore will require a coordinated approach from local political and economic decision-makers.


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