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Oxford fails in “Green” League Table

first_imgMadeleine-Ellis Pietersen, a Magdalen student who launched the Hog Roast Café last weekened in Hogacre Common, commented, “I find it quite striking how little environmental activism there is amongst the student body given how many amazing and pioneering eco-projects there are in Oxford. Having said that, incredible projects like the OxCoop and Oxgrow were started predominantly by students. ““Lots of colleges are run in a hugely environmentally unfriendly way, and there is a reticence to be innovative — for example, despite huge grounds, Magdalen is hugely reticent to allocate land for student allotments, and the plots available are tiny.”A slight change in the employment of methodology might account for Oxford’s drop in the League Table over recent years. People and Planet explain on their website that “The methodology for People & Planet Green League 2013 is developed in close consultation with key sectoral stakeholders and has evolved gradually over the seven years since its first publication”. Criteria such as independence, transparency and uniform metrics are highlighted as particular areas of importance in the development of methodology. A spokesperson for People and Planet told Cherwell: “Oxford has some catching up to do with the rest of the higher education sector, particularly in actual performance and the areas of carbon management, ethical procurement and staff and student engagement.”“However, we’re hopeful that Oxford will be able to reverse this downward trend with the aid of Harriet Waters, the new Head of Sustainability at Oxford University, who comes from Oxford Brookes where she drove forward huge institutional changes in sustainability.”Chris Garrard, a postgraduate student commented that “Oxford is a hub for student campaigning alongside research that is having a powerful influence on international development and the environment. The trouble is, this positive activity becomes rather tainted when the Vice-Chancellor and others at the top set a tone of profit before people, and deals before ethics. Deals such as the one agreed with Shell, represent a conscious choice to invest in a more unjust and potentially unstable world that the current students will inherit. That’s enough to justify a fail.” A Green League Table of UK universities published by The Guardian placed Oxford 132nd in the country for environmental standards, dropping 13 places since last year. 143 higher education institutions were analysed in the ranking, which was topped by Manchester Metropolitan University, followed closely by Plymouth.  The ranking, compiled by environmentalist website “People and Planet”, took into account factors such as Environmental Policy, Energy, Waste and Ethical Investment. Oxford was given a “fail” for its efforts across a whole range of these areas.In particular, Oxford fared poorly in the “Ethical procurement and Fair Trade”, “Waste and Recycling” and “Carbon Emissions” categories. Stronger points included “Ethical Investment” and “Student and staff engagement”. In total, Oxford Scored 22 points out of 70. A spokesperson for the University told Cherwell, “Although the University’s performance in the ‘green league’ is disappointing, this ranking omits some key environmental benchmarks. One of these is transport, which we have long prioritised with successful results. Fewer than 20% of staff and 5% of students working in the city centre now drive to work. Unlike many universities we also have a water management strategy to reduce water consumption and we are also devising strategies for biodiversity and sustainable purchasing.” “Nonetheless we recognise there is a lot of work to be done and we are looking very carefully at our sustainability impacts, dedicating up to £14 million to carbon reduction projects and annual grants of £100,000 to sustainable transport initiatives as well as £100,000 to other sustainability initiatives.”The University of Cambridge was ranked slightly above, at 113th, whilst London Business School and Heythrop College trailed at the bottom of the table. last_img read more