THE 50 people tasked with deciding Oxford’s part in the fight against climate change have begun hearing evidence from experts.

Residents of all ages and interests sat together in the country's first citizen’s assembly on climate change this weekend.

It comes after Oxford City Council unanimously declared a climate emergency in January and agreed to create the assembly in Oxford to draw up a plan to reduce emissions.

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Among those who spoke to the assembly's first sitting on Saturday was teenage climate campaigner Linnet Drury, of Oxford Spires Academy.

The secondary school student told the group: “Climate change is like a train crash going to happen and all young people know that they’re on that train... but you have the power in your hands to divert the tracks.”

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The youngster was among the many speakers to give evidence to the 50 citizens, who are being paid £300 for volunteering their time at the Said Business School for the four-day assembly split over two weekends.

The long list of speakers covered topics including buildings, sustainable transport, energy, biodiversity and waste reduction.

Residents were given statistics which revealed 81 per cent of Oxford’s emissions are from buildings.

Residential buildings contributed 29 per cent of Oxford’s total emissions, followed by institutional buildings, with Oxford University the highest single contributor responsible for eight per cent of the city's total emissions..

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Community action group Low Carbon Hub’s Barbara Hammond started her speech with a challenge to everyone listening.

She said: “The best way going forward in Oxford is to build on the fantastic stuff we are already doing in the city.

“We need to build on what we’ve been doing for a long time, which is to get people involved. We don’t get to zero carbon unless we include everybody in making changes.”

Ms Hammond called for residents to think about solutions that could get every single person involved whether that be residents regarding their own homes, or businesses and industrial buildings.

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She also said the universities were key to to change by contributing experts in the field who can help Oxford combat climate change.

She added: “We have an amazing resource in the heart of this city, people at the pinnacle of cutting edge research. If we can get them working together with us then this could really go somewhere.”

The assembly went on to hear about the Government legislation to create a ‘net zero’ status by 2050.

This means that any carbon emissions such as fumes from a car are balanced out by absorbing the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Big issues discussed at the assembly included aviation and agriculture emissions.

Jenny Hill of the government advisory group Committee on Climate Change, meanwhile, told the assembly categorically that ‘we can’t go on using natural gases in our homes and using petrol and diesel cars'.

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She spoke about potential solution to move towards net zero including plans to plant trees to absorb carbon emissions.

She said such plans could mean increasing forest cover in the UK from 13 per cent to up to 19 per cent.

That would mean planting five times more trees than at present in the UK every year up to 2050.

Ultimately, the aim of the citizens assembly is to bring together a number of recommendations for Oxford City Council to take forward and put to full council in January 2020 to adopt and develop.

The assembly will hold its second meeting on October 19 and 20 for the final weekend discussions.