The Lord Oxburgh

Official portrait of Lord Oxburgh crop 2, 2019.jpg
Born (1934-11-02) 2 November 1934 (age 88)
Alma materUniversity College, Oxford
Princeton University
AwardsBigsby Medal (1979)
Scientific career
ThesisGeology of the eastern Carabobo area, Venezuela (1960)
Doctoral advisorHarry Hammond Hess

Ernest Ronald Oxburgh, Baron Oxburgh, KBE, FRS, HonFREng[1] (born 2 November 1934) is an English geologist, geophysicist and politician.[2] Lord Oxburgh is well known for his work as a public advocate in both academia and the business world in addressing the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and develop alternative energy sources[3] as well as his negative views on the consequences of current oil consumption.

Early life

Oxburgh was born in Liverpool on 2 November 1934. He remained there with his family throughout World War II, despite Luftwaffe air raids. He attended Liverpool Institute High School for Boys from 1942 to 1950. He is a graduate of the University College, Oxford and Princeton University (PhD) (1960) where he worked on the emerging theory of plate tectonics[4] with the famous geologist Harry Hammond Hess.[5]


Oxburgh has taught geology and geophysics at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. At Cambridge he was Professor of Mineralogy and Petrology, head of the Department of Earth Sciences and President of Queens' College. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford, Caltech, and Cornell. From 1988 to 1993, Lord Oxburgh was chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, and Rector of Imperial College London from 1993 to 2000.[6] He was a member of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education that published an influential report in 1997.[7]

During 2004–05 Oxburgh was a non-executive chairman of Shell, the UK arm of Royal Dutch Shell. His tenure was remarkable in that while chairing a fossil fuels giant he expressed his "fears for the planet" because of climate change, sought new energy sources, and urged the global community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[8]

Lord Oxburgh was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Science and Engineering Research Council (Singapore), as of 1 January 2002, and is a member of the International Academic Advisory Panel of Singapore and the University Grants Committee (Hong Kong).[9] He is honorary president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association,[10] chairman of Falck Renewables, a wind energy firm,[11] an advisor to Climate Change Capital. He was chairman of D1 Oils, plc, a biodiesel producer, in 2007, and a director of GLOBE, the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment.[3]

In March 2010, he was appointed as the chairman of an inquiry into the research conducted by the Climatic Research Unit following the Climatic Research Unit hacking incident.[12] The report,[13] released 14 April 2010, found that " has been carried out with integrity, and that allegations of deliberate misrepresentation and unjustified selection of data are not valid." Critics asserted Oxburgh's ties with businesses that stood to profit from the decision created a conflict of interest.[14][15] The University of East Anglia did not see any conflict of interest,[16] stating,

"The choice of scientists is sure to be the subject of discussion, and experience would suggest that it is impossible to find a group of eminent scientists to look at this issue who are acceptable to every interest group which has expressed a view in the last few months. Similarly it is unlikely that a group of people who have the necessary experience to assess the science, but have formed no view of their own on global warming, could be found.[17]

Personal life

While at Princeton, Oxburgh was joined by his fiancée, Ursula, whom he married in the university chapel. They have three children.[18] An outdoorsman, Oxburgh enjoyed orienteering and running marathons until knee surgery limited him to mountain hikes with his wife.[2]

Awards and honors

Selected bibliography


  1. ^ a b c "List of Fellows". Archived from the original on 8 June 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Lord Oxburgh, KBE, FRS HonFREng". 31 July 2006. Archived from the original on 7 August 2006. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  3. ^ a b "D1 Oils – News". 31 December 2007. Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  4. ^ E. R. OXBURGH (22 September 1972). "Flake Tectonics and Continental Collision". Nature. 239 (5369): 202–204. Bibcode:1972Natur.239..202O. doi:10.1038/239202a0. S2CID 4186536.
  5. ^
  6. ^ The Lord Oxburgh, KBE, FRS: Rector 1993–2000 Archived 16 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Higher Education in the learning society: Main Report". Education England. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  8. ^ "UK | Shell boss 'fears for the planet'". BBC News. 17 June 2004. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  9. ^ "Lord Ronald Oxburgh". Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  10. ^ "CCSA – Staff". Archived from the original on 18 August 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  11. ^ "No more cheap energy, says expert | University News : University News : The University of Western Australia". 26 November 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  12. ^ "Chair announced for climate probe". BBC News. 22 March 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  13. ^ "Evidence - Evidence - The Independent Climate Change Email Review - Library - UEA".
  14. ^ David Adam, environment correspondent (14 April 2010). "Scientists cleared of malpractice in UEA's hacked emails inquiry | Environment |". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  15. ^ Webster, Ben (23 March 2010). "Lord Oxburgh the climate science peer has a conflict of interest". The Times. London.
  16. ^ Anglia defends Oxburgh's eco network ties The Register
  17. ^ a b "CRU Scientific Assessment Panel announced – University of East Anglia". UEA. 22 March 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  18. ^ "UK | Profile: Lord Oxburgh". BBC News. 17 June 2004. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  19. ^ "No. 52952". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 1992. p. 7.
  20. ^ "No. 55569". The London Gazette. 2 August 1999. p. 1.
  21. ^ "MPs, Lords and offices – UK Parliament". 21 April 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  22. ^ "All-Party Parliamentary Group for Earth Sciences: home page". 5 April 2000. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  23. ^ Fellows and Staff > Honorary Fellows > Rt. Hon. The Lord Ernest Ronald Oxburgh, St Edmund Hall, Oxford, UK.
  24. ^ "Climate Change Capital's Lord Oxburgh Wins Platts Life Time Achievement Award". Climate Change Capital. 15 November 2007. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  25. ^ "National Academy of Sciences". Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  26. ^ "Ronald Oxburgh". German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  27. ^ "University of Leeds – Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool". 21 July 2009. Archived from the original on 5 April 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  28. ^ Melchett Medal awarded to Lord Oxburgh: Energy Institute Events Guide, 2 December 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015

Media related to Ronald Oxburgh, Baron Oxburgh at Wikimedia Commons

Academic offices Preceded byDerek Bowett President of Queens' College, Cambridge 1982–1989 Succeeded byJohn Polkinghorne Preceded byEric Ash Rector of Imperial College London 1993–2000 Succeeded byRichard Sykes Business positions Preceded byPhilip Watts Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading 2004–2005 Succeeded byPosition dissolved July 2005responsibilities split betweenCEO Royal Dutch Shell:Jeroen van der Veer; andChairman (Non-Exec) Royal Dutch Shell:Aad Jacobs Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom Preceded byThe Lord Carlile of Berriew GentlemenBaron Oxburgh Followed byThe Lord Harrison