We have released public sustainability demands asking that every college by the end of March 2023

1. Adopts a target for net zero carbon and biodiversity net gain.

At least as ambitious as the central University’s 2035 date.   

2. Publishes a strategy as to how they will achieve this target.

With annual reporting, covering scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions as well as biodiversity impacts, and including or alongside a policy commitment to divest from fossil fuels.  

3. Implements the appropriate governance and enablers to enact this strategy.

Including a sustainability committee with student representation, and dedicated staff time.  

We have released these demands because we want to make it clear to colleges the progress we hope to see. This is not because colleges aren’t doing any sustainability work – as highlighted in our what should my college be doing, many colleges are undertaking some work. However, across the board the majority of colleges are still yet to publicly release a target and strategy, and to commit to the appropriate governance and enablers.  


How's your college getting along?



Back in March 2021, the central university committed to net zero carbon and biodiversity net gain by 2035 and released a strategy to achieve this. However, the central university strategy did not include colleges, so the students started voicing their concerns and asked colleges to make commitments as well.  


Following that, common rooms across over 20 colleges passed motions in support of Decarbonise Oxford’s Asks (organised through Oxford Climate Society). These asks included:  

  • Commit to carbon and biodiversity targets at least as ambitious as the University by the end of Trinity term 2021. 

  • Develop a formal sustainability strategy.  

  • Development of a system of transparent annual reporting of target progress and carbon emissions by the end of Trinity term 2021.  

  • Allocation of sufficient resources to achieve the targets, including a designated sustainability position reporting to the sustainability working group that takes responsibility for progress.  

Despite these motions passing, and many students having discussions with their colleges about these asks, progress on setting targets, developing strategies and allocating sufficient resources has been very slow. For this reason, after attending Conference of Colleges Sustainability Working groups, the SU felt it was important to clearly articulate what students have been asking for.  

We therefore consulted college Environment and Ethics Reps and came up with the three demands to be met by March 2023.  

Why March 2023?

March 2023 marks two years since the central university released its sustainability strategy and committed to its 2035 target, and nearly three years since the central university committed to fossil fuel divestment. Although some may feel this was a tight turn-around, we felt this was fair given the length of time since the central University’s commitments, and the previous student campaigning on this.   

Why Are These Demands?

These are demands because the climate crisis is an emergency. As the recently published IPCC (2023) report outlined, only swift and drastic action is sufficient. What we are asking for is reasonable – it is the level of ambition the central university has set out to achieve. Students have been asking for these things for two years now, and the lack of adequate progress leads us to need demands to increase progress.  

How are we tracking progress?

We believe that key to progress on our demands is transparency, so we have been going through the website of every college to see if there is any information available regarding meeting the demands. We created a Traffic Light System to mark whether colleges have met a target (green), are working on it (orange) or haven’t got information available (red). This traffic light system will be checked by colleges before we make it visible on this page in April.  

How is the SU working on these demands?

Oxford SU is pursuing these demands internally via college committees, through supporting college common room Environment and Ethics student representatives (who were consulted on these demands), and through supporting individual students passionate about making change via Decarbonise Oxford. Any student can get involved by looking at what information is publicly available on their college’s website, and then asking that their college makes the above-mentioned commitments.