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Sustainability at Keble

Keble places sustainability at the heart of what it does from education and research to food and travel.

The College Sustainability Committee (which comprises students, staff, and Fellows) is responsible for sustainability in College and is a full committee of Governing Body. We look at sustainability through the lens of the UN-adopted definition following the Brundtland Commission (1987): “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition includes, but is not limited to, areas such as CO2 emissions and biodiversity.

So far, efforts in sustainability practice have been focussing on four main areas in which we believe we can have the largest impact:


Although there are still a number of important projects ahead, the committee has thus far contributed to:

➤Calculating the College’s CO2 emissions for the first time
➤A full carbon and energy assessment
➤A new “Green Roof” on the bar
➤Biodiversity study of rewilded sections of College
➤Changes in heating practices to reduce CO2 emissions
➤A substantial upgrade to the Building Management System (BMS)
➤Reducing food waste
➤Meatless Mondays across College, and other plant-based food initiatives
➤A dedicated staff member focussed on sustainability

In addition, the College has already completed divestment from fossil fuels. Almost all of Keble’s investments are held by OUEM, who have a commitment not to invest in fossil fuels (see for the full ESG statement). The very small proportion that are not held by OUEM are investments being wound up, an investment in an Oxford-based Science start-up incubator, and housing.

Offsetting at Keble

At Keble College, we are committed to minimising our environmental impact and contributing to action on climate change. First and foremost, this means reducing our direct emissions as a college, and as a community. The majority of our direct carbon footprint (known as Scope 1 and 2) is from the use of energy on our main college sites. We have a relatively small transport footprint for college business, but we are aware that the collective emissions from staff and students travelling for work and study is substantial. We estimate that the emissions associated with staff and student travel are roughly 2.5 times higher than our onsite energy use.


Before we are able to fully decarbonise our energy use, and given that some emissions are considered unavoidable, we recognise the importance of offsetting carbon emissions through responsible and transparent practices. Our approach to offsetting is guided by the Oxford Offsetting Principles, a set of guidelines developed by leading experts at the University of Oxford to ensure integrity and effectiveness in carbon offset projects.


We would like to help our staff and students make an informed choice about offsetting. Particularly if members of our community take a flight, please consider offsetting it. We would like to make it as easy as possible for people to do so. We have included some providers at the bottom of this page who we feel are worth considering. If our staff and students do offset, please note that we will not discount these emissions from our calculations of our emissions partly because we won’t know whether members of our community have or not and partly because we remain committed to reducing our emissions as much as possible.


There is a range of providers of carbon offsets. Climate Impact Partners is based in Oxford and has a long track record of delivering projects with multiple benefits. The UN has a Carbon Offset Platform which allows users to search a database of projects.

What is Offsetting?

Offsetting involves compensating for carbon emissions generated by an activity, process, or organisation by investing in projects that reduce or remove an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Projects that reduce emissions include renewable energy installations, energy efficiency investments and switching from the most polluting fossil fuels to cleaner fuels. Projects that sequester greenhouse gas emissions include so called nature-based solutions such as reforestation, afforestation and ecosystem restoration projects, while geological sequestration refers to emissions captured in power stations or directly from the air, and stored underground.


The Oxford Offsetting Principles have been developed to help organisations ensure that their offsetting efforts align with best practices and contribute to meaningful emissions reductions. They are comprised of four main elements:


1)  Prioritising cutting emissions. If investing in offsets, ensure the environmental integrity of credits used to achieve net zero. This includes selecting offset projects that are transparent and verifiable, allowing for independent confirmation of emissions reductions or removals. Prioritise additionality by choosing offsets that lead to emissions reductions or removals that wouldn’t have happened without your support.


2)  Transition to carbon removal offsetting for any residual emissions by the global net zero target date. Oxford University has a set a date of 2035 to reach net zero.


3)  Shift to removals with durable storage (with lower risk of reversal). Look for offset projects that offer long-term certainty in carbon sequestration or emissions reductions.


4)  Support the development of innovative and integrated approaches to achieving net zero. This includes approaches which deliver broader environmental and social benefits besides emissions reduction or removal. Look for projects that promote biodiversity conservation, community development, and sustainable land management.

Learn more and take action

To learn more about our sustainability initiatives at Keble, or to contribute suggestions, please contact our Sustainability Committee.

This page will be updated regularly to reflect developments. Last updated 08/03/2024.