Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Dr Sam Hampton



Sam is an environmental geographer with a focus on the governance of energy and climate change.

His research examines the ways in which environmental impact relates to everyday life. It begins with the idea that energy and resource consumption are bound up in social practices such as travelling to work, cooking and eating, and achieving comfort. This perspective tells us that policies designed to reduce environmental impact require an understanding of how and why social norms and behaviours become established. For instance, the steady increase in 'normal' indoor temperatures over the last 50 years, the transition from bathing to showering, or the proliferation of plastics in food production and consumption.

Sam has applied these ideas to the practices of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the policies developed to reduce their energy consumption. Sam leads a project funded by the UK Energy Research Centre, investigating how policy and governance might ensure that SMEs can play a full part in driving down emissions in the UK. GoZero is comparing approaches to business support across the four nations and five selected sectors: horticulture, restaurants, hairdressers, trades, and industrial supply chains. The team, which includes colleagues from Open University and Sheffield Hallam University, is working closely with local and national government and business-representative organisations.

Prior to leading GoZero, Sam has conducted research on various energy and transport innovation projects, including Go Ultra Low Oxford, and Energy Superhub Oxford. In 2020-21, Sam led a team of researchers across the university to map different pathways to achieving zero carbon emissions in Oxfordshire by 2050. The project, called Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire, was awarded the School of Geography and the Environment Impact and Engagement award in 2022.

Alongside his research in the ECI, Sam also holds a position as a Research Fellow at the University of Bath, where he is leading an ESRC-funded project seeking to understand what it will take for the diverse UK population to become more 'carbon capable'. He also works as a freelance sustainability consultant, with a focus on project evaluation and business support. Clients include the Low Carbon Hub, Energy Saving Trust, and Oxford Innovation.


Journal Articles

Other Publications


  • Weatherall, D., Wilkinson-Dix, J., Bill, E., Horne, S., Wilkinson, T., Blundel, R., Hampton, S. (2022) How can policy better support SMEs in the pathway to Net Zero? Climate Change Committee, London.
  • Hampton, S., Knight, L., Scott, H., Budnitz, H., Killip, G., Wheeler, S., Smith, A., Eyre, N. (2021) Pathways to a zero carbon Oxfordshire. Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
  • Hampton, S., Schwanen, T., Doody, B., (2019) Go Ultra Low Oxford Phase One: Monitoring and Evaluation Final Report. Transport Studies Unit, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Oxford.

Conference Papers