The Climate League of Oxford and Cambridge (CLOC) released the first edition of their college table on Friday, ranking the Colleges of both universities on their environmental initiatives and ambitions and assigning a numerical score to each.

Colleges were graded in the fashion of the UK A-level system, with composite scores based on a number of ethical and financial criteria, grounded in the framework of the Environmental, Social and Governance movement (ESG). According to CLOC, Colleges received scores for Decarbonisation, Divestment, Delinking (“rescinding social license for fossil fuels”), and Governance.

Most Oxford colleges received a U grade, scoring below 40 points out of a possible 100. Only four colleges (Somerville, Corpus Christi, Mansfield, and Wolfson) received a higher grade, with Somerville earning the highest score of 51 out of 100. Somerville was commended for its efforts in the Divestment category, scoring the maximum 30 out of 30, owing to the College’s full divestment from fossil fuels in March 2021.

Four colleges (Brasenose, St. Antony’s, St. Catherine’s, and University) received a score of zero points. University College was given a “dishonourable mention” as reference to climate was “completely absent from [the] college’s public information.”

The Oxford SU President stated that the table exposes a general failure of colleges on climate action, writing: “Most colleges have received a U, and the best only a C in our ranking, showing that their climate ambition ranges from poor to non-existent. This is not only unacceptable, but deeply hypocritical. To the outside world, Oxford and Cambridge University pretend to be leaders in the fight against the climate crisis. Yet on the inside, many of their own colleges are lagging far behind, with no strategies to reach net zero and continued ties to the fossil fuel industry.”

In a Facebook post on her public page, the President indicated that the intention of the ranking table was to “pressure” colleges to “do better.” 

CLOC hosted an event at the Clarendon Building, Broad Street on 19 November to publicly display the table, where the President of the SU and the President of Oxford Climate Society made speeches. Meanwhile, the environmental scores of some colleges were chalked on the cobblestones and pavements outside college entrances.

The Conference of Colleges responded unfavourably to the CLOC league tables, telling The Oxford Blue that CLOC’s “assessment of the policies and practices of individual colleges is both inaccurate and incomplete, so that the “scores” they have allocated to colleges are wholly misleading.”

They reaffirmed that “Colleges are committed to taking urgent action to combat the climate crisis,” and that “[c]olleges are engaging closely with the University, with experts in the field, and with their undergraduate and graduate communities to set policies on sustainability, including through our Sustainability Working Group.  The Group’s current efforts are focussed on agreeing a common way to measure and report on our energy and water use and our biodiversity, and we plan to report on these using an agreed common approach early next year.”

You can see your college’s ranking in the table via the link here.

Update: A previous version of this article indicated that college environmental scores were “spray-painted” outside college entrances. They were, in fact, chalked. This article has been updated to reflect this and we apologise for the inaccuracy.

Joseph Geldman

Joseph Geldman (he/him) is incoming Editor In Chief for The Oxford Blue. Surviving on a diet of not enough coffee and not enough sleep, he allegedly studies for a MSt in 18th-century English literature.