Sam is Professor of Climate Change Economics and Policy at the University of Oxford, where he is affiliated with the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and the School of Geography and the Environment. He is also Research Director of Oxford Net Zero and a Fellow of Reuben College.

Sam is a Co-Investigator of the Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN), and ESRC-funded Network Plus hosted by the Grantham Research Institute and also including Queen’s University Belfast and the Universities of Edinburgh, Leeds and Oxford.


Sam was Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment from September 2017 until March 2021 and Co-Director from March 2011 until August 2017, along with Prof Simon Dietz. He joined the Grantham Research Institute in 2008 as a Principal Research Fellow.

During his time at the institute Sam was also Deputy Director (2013-18) and Director (2018 – 21) of the ESRC Centre of Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP). He was a member of the UK Climate Change Committee (2008-16) and a non-executive Director of CDC Group (2015-21).

Research interests

  • Climate change economics and policy
  • The economics of adaptation to climate change
  • Climate change and development


Research - 2024

Using publicly available data on country- and company-level net-zero targets, this econometric analysis reveals a positive relationship between state and company: A country introducing a domestic net-zero target in law increases the likelihood of companies introducing their own voluntary targets and vice-versa. Read more

Research - 2023

Research - 2022

Research - 2021

Focusing on London, UK, this paper presents evidence collected via semi-structured interviews with experts and practitioners involved in the propagation of climate emergency declarations to critically explore how and why these declarations emerged, and the various different roles they are perceived to play for different local actors. Read more

Research - 2020

Multilateral development institutions often use performance-based allocation (PBA), mathematical formulas based on a list of performance criteria, to inform the allocation of development assistance or environmental funding. The way the formulas are designed can have material and often unintended consequences on the allocation of funds; this paper highlights a particular problem called the ‘cardinal fallacy’. Read more

Research - 2019

Research - 2018

Research - 2017

Research - 2016

Research - 2015

The number of climate change laws in major economies has grown from less than 40 in 1997 to almost 500 at the end of 2013. The passage of these laws is influenced by both domestic and international factors. This paper reviews the main international factors, drawing on a powerful new dataset of climate legislation in 66 national jurisdictions. We find that the propensity to legislate on climate change is heavily influenced by the passage of similar laws elsewhere, suggesting a strong and so far under-appreciated role for international policy diffusion. Read more

Research - 2014

Research - 2013

Research - 2012

Research - 2011

Research - 2010

Research - 2009

Research - 2008


Policy - 2023

Policy - 2021

Policy - 2020

This study explores the distributional impacts of a net-zero-consistent carbon price across different household types and income deciles in the UK; and examines which combination of interventions may reduce carbon consumption and still be progressive. The authors find that it is possible to design a revenue recycling scheme that leaves fuel-poor and low-income households better off while driving the transition to net-zero emissions in the UK by 2050. Read more

Policy - 2019

Policy - 2018

National governments, with development partners, have an important role to play in supporting adaptation and climate-resilient development among private actors – households, producers and small businesses – in the semi-arid lands of developing countries, argues this brief, a final output from the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-Arid Economies (PRISE) project. Read more

Policy - 2017

Ongoing concerns about the best policies to achieve affordability have led to three reviews: of energy costs, of the Levy Control Framework, and of carbon pricing. This paper draws on research findings and empirical evidence to identify key principles and issues that should be taken into account by the Government in relation to these separate but related reviews. Read more

Policy - 2016

Policy - 2015

Adaptation presents developing countries with the ultimate dual challenge – building a rapidly evolving, sustainable economy within an environment increasingly altered by the impacts of climate change. To meet this challenge, adaptation policy must find balance and create synergy between the two, as climate resilience and economic resilience go hand in hand. Read more

Policy - 2014

Policy - 2013

Shifting from coal to natural gas for electricity generation can help the UK power sector to decarbonise in the near term. With good planning and investment, natural gas can support the development of a low-carbon power sector by providing essential backup for intermittent renewables, but could only play a bigger role longer-term if fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

However, a new UK ‘dash’ for gas on the assumption of low prices is a risky economic and environmental option. A lower risk option is a ‘dash’ for smart gas; using natural gas in those areas where it offers the greatest value in decarbonising the power sector. Read more

Policy - 2012

Policy - 2011

Policy - 2010

Policy - 2009


Books - 2019

Books - 2018

Books - 2016

Books - 2014


Events - 2021

Events - 2019

Events - 2018

Events - 2017

Events - 2016

Events - 2015

Events - 2014


News - 2023

News - 2022

News - 2020

News - 2019

News - 2018

News - 2017

News - 2016

News - 2015

News - 2014

News - 2013

News - 2011

News - 2009

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