• Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment

email +44 (0)1865 285197

Academic Profile

Cameron Hepburn is Professor of Environmental Economics at the University of Oxford, and Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He also serves as the Director of the Economics of Sustainability Programme, based at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School.

Cameron has published widely on energy, resources and environmental challenges across disciplines including engineering, biology, philosophy, economics, public policy and law, drawing on degrees in law and engineering (Melbourne University) and masters and doctorate in economics (Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar). He has co-founded three successful businesses and has provided advice on energy and environmental policy to government ministers (e.g. China, India, UK and Australia) and international institutions (e.g. OECD, UN).


Decision Making Process: Decisions and decision making are central to how people live their everyday lives, to how economic processes and political life unfold and spaces are produced, and to how policy makers seek to intervene in society and the environment. The default position is to assume that decision making is a rational processes in which the most desirable or appropriate course of action is taken, but conventional understandings of decision making, which have a long lineage in western philosophy and economical and political theory, have over the past decades been challenged in a number of ways by thinkers and scholars from a range of academic disciplines. In economics, for instance, there has been a (modest) shift from normative and deductive understandings of decision-making - how decisions should be taken and what should be done - to more descriptively realistic and inductive models - how people actually make decisions. And in geography and social theory it has been argued that decision making is a relational and distributed process rather than the province of self-contained, sovereign subjects. At the same time, developments in the tools and techniques that are used to aid and inform policy making tend to lag behind those in theory and conceptualisation: many continue to be premised on fairly conventional understandings of decision making, although this is gradually starting to change.

This core module engages decision making processes from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It begins by outlining basic notions about decision making from economic theory in the first session and gradually allows for more complexity in how decision processes unfold. Thus, in subsequent sessions the focus will be broadened to consider: how individuals actually take decisions; decision processes as undertaken by collectives rather than individual agents; how the past and future shape decisions in the present; multiple criteria according to which decision making processes can be considered to be successful or to have failed; how decision making processes are affected by various forms of uncertainty; and how such processes are complicated and sometimes even paralysed by "wicked" problems. The module will pay specific attention to how geographers have engaged with and understood decision making processes, and how decision making processes are implicated in the production of spaces.

Throughout the module theoretical frameworks and ideas are illustrated with the help of case-study examples focused, among others, on issues related to climate change, energy and transport. Close attention is paid to the implications for policy processes of the various aspects of decision making that will be addressed.

Course: MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy

Current Graduate Research Students

Galina Alova

The low-carbon transition of the global electricity sector

Joris Bücker

Long term (economic) policy tools based on complexity economics and the non-linear planetary impact of climate change

Alex Clark

Stranded states: Public management of fossil fuel assets in the international system

Adam Ferris

Studying decision architecture to find key behavioural intervention measures for increased traction in green consumption

Matteo Gasparini

Exploring the role of financial institutions in the low carbon transition and the implications for financial stability

Yangsiyu Lu

Environmental Risks, Stranded Assets, and the Impacts of Regulation on Firm Productivity

Max Nathanson

Strategic Urban Development and the Climate-Security Nexus in US Foreign Policy: Evidence from Central America

Carter Powis

A multi-disciplinary analysis of the role of transient negative emissions in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement

Xiyu Ren

The impact of the energy transition on the economy: studies on the pattern and the relationship between policy contexts, firm decisions and innovation choices

Sugandha Srivastav

Essays on the post-carbon transition

Rupert Stuart-Smith

Attribution science in the courts: establishing the liability of greenhouse gas emitters for climate change damages

Recent Graduate Research Students (since 2006)

Lucas Kruitwagen
Completed DPhil in 2021

The role of disclosure in the management of environment-related risks in the investment value chain

Penelope Mealy
Completed DPhil in 2018

'Know What?' New lens on productive knowledge shed light on long run development structural change, job switching and the transition to the green economy

Alexander Pfeiffer
Completed DPhil in 2018

The 'decarbonisation identity' and pathways to net-zero: the scale and impact of committed cumulative carbon emissions and stranded assets in the electricity generation sector on the decarbonisation of the economy

Selected Publications

For a complete list of publications please visit Prof Hepburn's personal website


Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • Dutton, A.J., Gratwicke, B., Hepburn, C., Herrera, E.A. and Macdonald, D.W. (2013) Tackling unsustainable wildlife trade. Chapter 5 in, Macdonald, D.W. and Willis, K.J. (eds.) Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 74-91. ISBN: 9780470658765.
  • Hepburn, C. and Bowen, A. (2013) Prosperity with Growth: Economic Growth, Climate Change and Environmental Limits. Chapter 29 in, Fouquet, R. (ed.) Handbook On Energy And Climate Change. Edward Elgar. ISBN: 9780857933683.

Other Publications

  • Mattauch, L., Millar, R., van der Ploeg, R., Rezai, A., Schultes, A., Venmans, F., Bauer, N., Dietz, S., Edenhofer, O., Farrell, N., Hepburn, C., Luderer, G., Pless, J., Spuler, F., Stern, N. and Teytelboym, A. (2018) Steering the Climate System: An Extended Comment. CESifo Working Paper No. 7414.



  • Farmer, D. and Hepburn, C. (2014) Less Precision, more truth: Uncertainty in climate economics and macroprudential policy. Bank of England interdisciplinary workshop.