Single-atom catalysts are emerging as primary catalysts for many reactions due to their 100% utilization of active metal centers leading to high catalytic efficiencies. Herein, we report the use of a single-atom Co catalyst for the oxidative cleavage of the -O-4 bonds of lignin model compounds at a low oxygen pressure. Under the optimized reaction conditions, the conversion of 2-(2-methoxyphenoxy)-1-phenylethanol up to 95% with high selectivities was achieved with a variety of substrates investigated. The reusability of the Co catalyst with a high catalytic efficiency indicates its potential application in the oxidative cleavage of C-O bonds.