Ronald Oxburgh, Baron Oxburgh

The Lord Oxburgh

Official portrait of Lord Oxburgh crop 2.jpg
Born (1934-11-02) 2 November 1934 (age 86)
Alma materUniversity College, Oxford
Princeton University
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 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 1993–2000.[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

  • Oxburgh, E.R. (1968) The Geology of the eastern Alps, London: Geologists' Association, 127 p.
  • Oxburgh, E R. (1974) The plain man's guide to plate tectonics, The eleventh Geologists' Association special lecture delivered 2 February 1973, Oxford: Geologists' Association., Reprinted from the Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, 85 (3)
  • Moorbath, S., Thompson, R.N. and Oxburgh, E.R. (1984) "The relative contributions of mantle, oceanic crust and continental crust to magma genesis: Proceedings of a Royal Society discussion meeting held on 23 and 24 March 1983", Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London, 310 (1514), 342 p., London: Royal Society, ISBN 0-85403-230-4
  • Oxburgh, E R., Yardley, B.W.D. and England, P.C. (Eds) (1987) Tectonic settings of regional metamorphism, Proceedings of a Royal Society discussion meeting in association with IGCP project no.235 on 'Metamorphism and Geodynamics' held on 29 and 30 January 1986, London: Royal Society, ISBN 0-85403-290-8
  • Butler, R. Sir, Oxburgh, R. Sir and Field, F. (1996) Social business, Newchurch lecture series, London: Newchurch & Company, ISBN 0-9529139-0-9
  • Oxburgh, E.R., Baron (Chairman) (2004) "Chips for everything: follow-up: report with evidence": 1st report of session 2003–04 / House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee, House of Lords papers 15, London: Stationery Office, ISBN 0-10-400372-3
  • Oxburgh, E.R., Baron (Chairman) (2004) "Radioactive waste management: report with evidence: 5th report of session 2003–04 / House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee", House of Lords papers 200, London: Stationery Office, ISBN 0-10-400568-8
  • Oxburgh, E.R., Baron (Chairman) (2004) "Renewable energy: practicalities ; 4th report of session 2003–04 / House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee", House of Lords papers 126, London: Stationery Office, ISBN 0-10-400506-8
  • Oxburgh, E.R., Baron (Chairman) (2004) "Science and the RDAs: follow-up: report with evidence: 2nd report of session 2003-04 / Select Committee on Science and Technology", House of Lords papers 103', London: Stationery Office, ISBN 0-10-400463-0
  • Oxburgh, E.R., Baron (Chairman) (2004) "Science and treaties: 3rd report of session 2003-04 / Select Committee on Science and Technology", House of Lords papers, 110, London: Stationery Office, ISBN 0-10-400471-1


  1. ^ a b c "List of Fellows".
  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.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  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. ^
  14. ^ David Adam, environment correspondent (14 April 2010). "Scientists cleared of malpractice in UEA's hacked emails inquiry | Environment |". 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. ^ "University of Leeds - Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool". 21 July 2009. Archived from the original on 5 April 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  27. ^ Melchett Medal awarded to Lord Oxburgh: Energy Institute Events Guide, 2 December 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Derek Bowett
President of Queens' College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
John Polkinghorne
Preceded by
Eric Ash
Rector of Imperial College London
Succeeded by
Richard Sykes
Business positions
Preceded by
Philip Watts
Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading
Succeeded by
Position dissolved July 2005
responsibilities split between
CEO Royal Dutch Shell:
Jeroen van der Veer; and
Chairman (Non-Exec) Royal Dutch Shell:
Aad Jacobs
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Lord Carlile of Berriew
Baron Oxburgh
Followed by
The Lord Harrison

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