Ronald Oxburgh, Baron Oxburgh

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The Lord Oxburgh
Born (1934-11-02) 2 November 1934 (age 85)
Alma mater University College, Oxford
Princeton University
Thesis Geology of the eastern Carabobo area, Venezuela (1960)
Doctoral advisor Harry Hammond Hess

Ernest Ronald Oxburgh, Baron Oxburgh, KBE, FRS, HonFREng[1] (born 2 November 1934) is a geologist and geophysicist.[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]


Oxbuurgh 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 fiancee, 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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "List of Fellows".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Lord Oxburgh, KBE, FRS HonFREng". 2006-07-31. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "D1 Oils - News". 2007-12-31. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. E. R. OXBURGH (1972-09-22). "Flake Tectonics and Continental Collision". Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. The Lord Oxburgh, KBE, FRS: Rector 1993–2000
  7. "Higher Education in the learning society: Main Report". Education England. Retrieved 10 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "UK | Shell boss 'fears for the planet'". BBC News. 2004-06-17. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Lord Ronald Oxburgh". Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "CCSA - Staff". Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "No more cheap energy, says expert | University News : University News : The University of Western Australia". 2009-11-26. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Chair announced for climate probe". BBC News. 22 March 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. David Adam, environment correspondent (2010-04-14). "Scientists cleared of malpractice in UEA's hacked emails inquiry | Environment |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Webster, Ben (2010-03-23). "Lord Oxburgh the climate science peer has a conflict of interest". The Times. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Anglia defends Oxburgh's eco network ties The Register
  17. 17.0 17.1 "CRU Scientific Assessment Panel announced - University of East Anglia". UEA. 2010-03-22. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "UK | Profile: Lord Oxburgh". BBC News. 2004-06-17. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52952. p. 7. 13 June 1992.
  20. The London Gazette: no. 55569. p. 1. 2 August 1999.
  21. "MPs, Lords and offices - UK Parliament". 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "All-Party Parliamentary Group for Earth Sciences: home page". 2000-04-05. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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. 2007-11-15. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "National Academy of Sciences:". Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "University of Leeds - Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool". 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2010-08-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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