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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 June, 2004, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Profile: Lord Oxburgh
Lord Oxburgh
Shell hopes its new UK chairman, Lord Oxburgh, will improve its image
Oil bosses are not famed for publicly worrying over the effects of greenhouse gases and the problem of climate change.

But just a few months into his post and already making headlines, Shell boss Ron Oxburgh appears to be far from an oil industry corporate stereotype.

He has told the press he sees "little hope for the world" unless carbon dioxide emissions are dealt with.

And climate change makes him "very worried for the planet".

Born in Liverpool in 1934, Ernest Ronald Oxburgh gained a place at Oxford University before going on to do pick up a doctorate at Princeton University in the US.

'Formidable' career

The bright geologist went on to forge a formidable academic career.

He worked as chief scientific adviser at the Ministry of Defence and rector of Imperial College London.

As well as being a crossbench peer in the House of Lords and chairing its science and technology select committee, he also does charity work, chairing the Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics Network to promote the subjects among young people.

I think that in corporate organisations like Shell you can develop an insensitivity to some of the factors that weigh with people outside
Lord Oxburgh

He is also an honorary professor at Cambridge University and fellow of the Royal Society.

The father-of-three became a KBE 12 years ago and made a life peer in 1999.

Despite being hurled into the post of non-executive chairman for Shell's UK arm in March, the 69-year-old is really known for his abilities as a scientist rather than a city whiz kid.

Lord Oxburgh has spoken about there being "a social responsibility on people from other backgrounds to participate in the corporate world".

Crumpled image

He was also influential in getting Shell to form a social responsibilities committee.

He told the Guardian newspaper: "I think that in corporate organisations like Shell... you develop a corporate mentality and you can develop an insensitivity to some of the factors that weigh very heavily with people outside."

Lord Oxburgh's views may help the embattled company as it attempts to turn around its crumpled image.

The company took a beating after it emerged it has been overstating its oil reserves.

It was forced to restate them four times this year, which sparked anger among shareholders and led several top executives to quit, including former chairman Philip Watts.

But with retirement from Shell looming in 2005 for Lord Oxburgh, the clock is ticking on how much he can achieve with the company.



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