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Environmental Sustainability
Strategy & Action Plan

Introduction

The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that the current global target of an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050 is not enough to avert catastrophic temperature change. According to the report, it is essential that global temperature change is limited to 1.5˚C, and, to ensure this, rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society are required.

Oxford was the first city in the UK to hold a Citizens Assembly on climate change (in 2019), and in February 2021 was one of the first UK City Councils to declare an aspiration to become Net Zero by 2040, ten years earlier than the UK Government’s stated 2050 Net Zero goal.

Citizens Advice Oxford (CAO) is determined to play its part in making Oxford a more environmentally sustainable place for future generations. We are fully committed to reducing both our own environmental impact as well as to integrating education and messaging around climate change in our Research and Campaigns work.

Scope

  • This strategy addresses all the relevant aspects of the operation of CAO.
  • It applies to all CAO employees, volunteers, trustees and premises, to services, agency staff, apprentices, students, interns,
    secondees and contractors funded by our service.

This strategy demonstrates how we will:

  • lead by example to deliver sound environmental outcomes by managing and mitigating, as far as possible, the impact of our activities on the environment
  • integrate key environmental considerations into our operational and policy decisions so that we can continue to be a responsible recipient of public and charitable funding
  • work towards reducing our absolute carbon footprint from a baseline in 2019 (pre-Covid) by 25% by 2025 whilst providing a service that maintains the highest standards of confidentiality through careful disposal of sensitive information.

Wider links

This strategy supports the Government’s key priority areas around the environment.1 It will also support Oxford City Council’s specific Net Zero targets.

Our aim

“To reduce our impact on the environment at source through prioritising energy efficiency and efficient resource use throughout our operations, reducing travel and waste, and promoting education and awareness of good environmental behaviours among our staff.”

Themed objectives to achieve our aim

To achieve this aim, the following themed objectives have been identified.

Recycling of materials

  • We seek to reduce the quantity of supplies and products used.
  • We ensure the maximum recycling of paper (subject to confidentiality), cardboard, glass, plastic, tins, batteries and printer cartridges. Where specific recycling bins are used, these are labelled appropriately.
  • We seek to minimise the use of paper by increasing electronic communication and printing double-sided where possible.

Disposal of waste

  • We encourage the reuse and repair of products, to avoid premature disposal.
  • We donate redundant IT equipment to other users or recycled once data has been removed in line with information assurance and confidentiality policies.

Transport

  • Where possible, and especially for larger groups, meetings are held by videoconference rather than face to face, although we understand the need for some regular face-to-face contact for staff and volunteers’ well-being.
  • Whenever possible, CAO staff, volunteers and trustees use public transport or cycle.
  • Car sharing is encouraged whenever possible and car travel is restricted to essential trips only.
  • All training venues and meeting locations are easily accessible by public transport.

Use of energy

  • We work with our landlords to reduce the amount of energy used within our premises, and aim to influence them to switch to a
    renewable energy (green) tariff for our electricity supply.
  • Energy efficiency and saving measures in the office include:
    • turning off lights, computers, printers and photocopiers when not in use or at the end of the working day, as relevant
    • using LED lightbulbs where our premises allow it
    • requesting low-flush toilets and efficient hand dryers to replace paper towels.

Use of water

Staff are requested to:

  • report water leaks and dripping taps immediately
  • use the dishwasher only when it is fully loaded
  • fill the kettle only with the quantity of water that they need.

Suppliers and purchasing

  • We will review our current supplier list against a new set of criteria that prioritises:
    • local suppliers over national ones, to reduce travel miles
    • working with suppliers who themselves adhere to sound environmental practices and have a clear environmental policy in place, including the use of products that are produced in an environmentally sustainable manner, and are repairable, non-toxic, reusable or recyclable.
  • We will ask all existing suppliers to sign a Supplier Code of Conduct outlining the environmental criteria we expect them to comply
    with.

Awareness and education

  • As we know that if our team are well informed, they are more likely to assist in reducing our overall environmental impact, we
    train all staff and volunteers on their roles and responsibilities in delivering on the above objectives, and maximising the impact
    of these.
  • We aim to keep up to date with the latest in best environmental practice in the workplace, and will update and introduce
    any new policies that become relevant.

Delivering the strategy

The strategy is overseen by our Citizens Advice Oxford Sustainability Sub Group, which provides the overall CAO strategic direction. The group is led by Sophie Brooks, a trustee who is also a professional Sustainability Consultant. Christine O’Hare, CAO Chief Officer, will be accountable for ensuring that the strategy is delivered.

The action plan

The themed objectives are delivered through an annual action plan. Holly Probert, our Office Manager, is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day delivery of this action plan.

Action plan outcomes

Each set of actions relating to the themed action plan will have a baseline, with Outcome measures and targets to monitor progress. These will be compared to a baseline position which is also outlined in the action plan.

Review

The strategy and action plan will be reviewed by the CAO Sustainability Sub Group in January 2023 and will then be refreshed and rolled out. Thereafter they will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Policy agreed by the Trustee Board of Citizens Advice Oxford on 1st March 2022.