The recent launch of the Oxford CLOC 2023 Results

On Saturday, 27th of May, the second iteration of the Climate League of Oxford and Cambridge (CLOC) was officially launched online, ranking Oxford colleges on their sustainability progress. CLOC was first launched by students and members of community groups in Oxford and Cambridge in 2021.

The CLOC team is also working on a full Methodology Report to describe the process behind this year’s CLOC rankings and clarify potential points of confusion or concern. A supplementary report will be published in due course, including statistics from the CLOC 23 ranking, an analysis of the results, and specific recommendations to the colleges. 

What is the purpose of CLOC?

The Climate League of Oxford and Cambridge (CLOC) is comprised of a ranking of the colleges based on their climate efforts and transparency, an evidence base containing the sources and analyses underlying our ranking, and yearly action and social media campaign.

The evaluation is based on the CLOC Mark Scheme, revised in 2023. Three objectives guide CLOC activities: to pressure colleges to integrate climate considerations into all relevant policies, to push for greater transparency about colleges’ climate efforts, and to centralise data on colleges’ climate commitments, enabling accountability of colleges on climate action to their students and staff.

The CLOC team

Based in Oxford and Cambridge, CLOC was initially formed by climate activists – students, staff, and community members. This year, CLOC team members have primarily overlapped with the Oxford Climate Justice Campaign (OCJC) members. However, CLOC is an independent group, and the ranking, evidence base, social media campaign and launch activities related to the ranking are all carried out by CLOC.

The need for CLOC: The exclusion of colleges from sustainability strategies

CLOC is a response by students, staff and community members to a persistent lack of college-based climate action and opacity about the work that is being done by the colleges to mitigate climate change. Oxbridge colleges are not only globally influential, but also extremely wealthy institutions, in total holding more than £12.8 billion of wealth: a staggering amount. For these reasons, colleges have a climate responsibility that goes far beyond their research and the education they provide.

Further, Oxbridge colleges are independent institutions, and neither the University of Oxford’s Sustainability Strategy nor the Cambridge Environmental Sustainability Vision applies to the respective colleges. 

In Oxford, this means that all colleges apart from Reuben, Kellogg, and St. Cross College are excluded from the University Sustainability Strategy, and so inaction on the part of the colleges risks going under the radar. By bringing together extensive information on college sustainability, CLOC highlights and exposes this critical gap between the University’s sustainability commitments and those of the colleges. 

How were the scores calculated?

CLOC assesses college sustainability efforts across four main areas: their policies on donations and banking (delinking), investments (divestment), emissions estimates and -reductions (decarbonisation) and committees and paid staff members working on sustainability (governance). These sections are weighted differently and are assessed using graded mark bands and detailed criteria.

Consulting External Advisors

The CLOC team contacted academics for feedback on the methodology to ensure it is thorough and accurate. This year (2023), CLOC obtained feedback from five Oxbridge academics and one academic based at University College London. This includes feedback from Camilla Hyslop, Data Lead for the Oxford Net Zero Tracker, who commented on earlier versions of the 2023 Mark Scheme.

Engaging with colleges

A CLOC questionnaire was sent to the relevant staff at all colleges, requesting information concerning the assessed areas. The questionnaire received responses from 17 colleges, compared with zero in 2021. While encouraging, most colleges still refuse to be transparent about their climate action and are unwilling to engage with CLOC.

CLOC’s actions

Once CLOC launched, the rankings were posted on the CLOC Instagram account. The CLOC team also acted, putting up posters of college CLOC scores on the railings outside the Radcliffe Camera. The social media campaign and action helped raise awareness about the launch and get people in Oxford engaged with the campaign. 

What were the results?

In the Oxford CLOC 2023, colleges generally scored low, displaying that across the board, Oxford colleges are lagging in their climate action. However, these results also show that the new CLOC mark scheme is intentionally stringent. Its design reflects what CLOC deems the best practice for sustainability, which captures the urgency of the climate crisis. 

Although the final ranking shows a considerable variation in scores, no college achieved a higher mark than 60 per cent. All colleges remain below the standard CLOC believes they should aim for. However, it must be acknowledged that there are efforts to change this, with the hope of seeing improvements in the coming years. 

The top three colleges were St Antony’s (59 percent), Kellogg (51 percent) and St John’s (43 percent). These colleges demonstrated their commitment to climate action in publicly available and clearly signposted documents explaining their sustainability initiatives. More generally, colleges achieving high marks have typically divested from fossil fuels, carried out a detailed greenhouse gas emissions baseline, and adopted a committal and ambitious decarbonisation plan, as well as having effectively integrated sustainability into their governance structure.

The lowest-scoring colleges in the CLOC 2023 rankings were Queen’s (2 per cent), St Hugh’s (0 per cent) and Oriel (0 per cent). These colleges typically provided little, if any, information on their climate efforts. Where these colleges did refer to sustainability, their claims tended to be too vague to have any practical implications. These colleges must urgently demonstrate their seriousness on sustainability.

Colleges generally scored very low on the delinking section. This trend reflects that most banks perform poorly on sustainability by funding fossil fuel projects, but also that colleges tend to neglect climate considerations in donations and banking policies. The importance of severing financial links to avoid giving social license to fossil fuel companies is widely underestimated. However, CLOC’s assessment also provided some promising insights, such as Keble’s practice of banking with Handelsbank, a Swedish bank that has fully divested.

Through assessing colleges, CLOC has identified several good practices. For example, Exeter, Corpus Christi and Lincoln colleges have hired a joint sustainability coordinator. Somerville and St Antony’s, as well as Kellogg, also all have some form of paid sustainability staff member. This is an effective way of ensuring (at least some) work in college is being done on climate, and works to integrate climate action into college operations. Importantly, improvements such as these demonstrate that such changes are possible in a short time frame, providing a blueprint for other colleges to follow suit.

Why are there only Oxford colleges in CLOC 2023?

The 2023 ranking only focuses on Oxford colleges, while the release of the Cambridge scores has been postponed. The CLOC team aim to publish the Cambridge results as soon as possible, hopefully in 2023.

From CLOC to you: How can you use CLOC?

CLOC is, above all, an information resource and a pressure campaign – only secondarily is it a ranking. It is specifically intended for students, staff and community members who want to hold their colleges to account for sustainability.

You can use the CLOC evidence base, which includes sources and detailed comments specifically designed to help with this. CLOC hopes to sustain long-term action and will work on action material over the summer, including JCR motions and summaries of which policies each college can and should implement. 

A final statement from CLOC: The Bigger Picture – Why should you care?

It is important to remember that colleges are here to serve students and staff. As such, members of the university community must be able to access information to hold their colleges accountable to their climate commitments. The CLOC rankings highlight the areas where colleges need to improve their sustainability efforts to implement meaningful change. By publishing these rankings and providing specific actionable data, we seek to enable advocacy from students, staff and local communities, with the ultimate aim of encouraging necessary action from colleges.

Finally, CLOC is keen to expand. If you have any questions or want to join us at one of our actions, such as the information campaign at the Rad Cam, reach out to the CLOC at