THE Impact Rankings 2020 by SDG: climate action (SDG 13) methodology

April 17, 2020

Browse the full Impact Rankings 2020 results

This ranking explores universities’ research on climate change, their use of energy and their preparations for dealing with the consequences of climate change.

Please view the methodology for the Impact Rankings 2020 to find out how these data are used in the overall ranking. 


Research on climate action (27%)

  • Proportion of papers in the top 10 per cent of journals as defined by Citescore (10%)
  • Field-weighted citation index of papers produced by the university (10%)
  • Number of publications (7%)

This focuses on research that is relevant to climate action. The field-weighted citation index is a subject-normalised score of the citation performance of publications.

The data are provided by Elsevier’s Scopus dataset, based on a query of keywords associated with SDG 13 (climate action). The dataset includes all indexed publications between 2014 and 2018. The data are normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Low-carbon energy use (27%)

This measures the amount of renewable and low-carbon energy used by the institution. It refers to the gigajoules (GJ) of electrical energy provided by renewable or nuclear energy.

The data were provided directly by universities and normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Environmental education measures (23%)

  • Local education programmes or campaigns on climate change (4.6%)
  • Existence of university climate action plan shared with local government and community groups (4.6%)
  • Working with local or national government to plan for climate change disasters (4.6%)
  • Inform and support local or regional government on issues associated with climate change (4.6%)
  • Collaborate with NGOs on climate adaptation (4.6%)

The data and evidence were provided directly by universities. The evidence was evaluated and scored by Times Higher Education and is not normalised.

Carbon neutrality (23%)

Universities are asked to indicate whether they have already achieved carbon neutrality or whether they are working on this commitment.


When we ask about policies and initiatives, our metrics require universities to provide the evidence to support their claims. Evidence is evaluated against a set of criteria and decisions are cross validated where there is uncertainty. Evidence is not required to be exhaustive – we are looking for examples that demonstrate best practice at the institutions concerned.


Unless otherwise stated, the data used refer to the closest academic year to January to December 2018.


Universities must teach undergraduates and be validated by a recognised accreditation body to be included in the ranking.

Data collection

Institutions provide and sign off their institutional data for use in the rankings. On the rare occasions when a particular data point is not provided, we enter a value of zero.

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