Professor David King

Founder & Former Chair at Centre for Climate Repair

Founder & Former Chair, Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge

Professor Sir David King was the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's Special Representative for Climate Change. He was appointed to this post by the Foreign Secretary in September 2013. Prior to this he was the Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford. As Director he drew together an elite group of full-time, associate and visiting academics from all over the world to be part of the School.

Sir David was the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Government Office of Science from October 2000 to 31 December 2007. In that time, he raised the profile of the need for governments worldwide to act on climate change and was instrumental in creating the new £1bn Energy Technologies Institute. He gave over 300 talks on climate change at venues around the world between 2002 and 2007. In 2008 he co-authored The Hot Topic (Bloomsbury) on this subject. As Director of the Government’s Foresight Programme, he created an in-depth horizon scanning process which advised government on a range of long-term problems, from flooding to obesity.

Sir David chaired the government’s Global Science and Innovation Forum from its inception and advised on the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001, post 9/11 risks to the UK, GM foods and energy provision. He was heavily involved in establishing the government’s Science and Innovation Strategy of 2004-2014.

Sir David was born in South Africa in 1939 and in 1974, after an early career at the University of Witwatersrand, Imperial College and the University of East Anglia, he became the Brunner Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Liverpool. In 1988, he was appointed 1920 Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, subsequently becoming Master of Downing College (1995-2000) and Head of Cambridge University Chemistry Department (1993-2000). He remains Director of Research at the Department of Chemistry in Cambridge and is Senior Scientific Advisor to the bank UBS. He was President of the British Science Association from 2008-9.

He has published more than 500 papers on chemical physics and on science and policy, and has been awarded numerous prizes, fellowships, and honorary degrees.

Sir David became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1991, Foreign Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002, was knighted in 2003 for his work in science, and received the award of “Officier dans l’ordre national de la Légion d’Honneur” from the French President in 2009 for his work on climate change and on negotiation the international agreement to build the world’s largest technology project, the ITER fusion reactor. In 2022 he received the AAAS Hamburg Award for Science Diplomacy.

  • In news articles

    Synthesising Compelling Evidence: Insights for Early Career Researchers

    On the 9th of March, NERC-funded doctoral students attended the second workshop session in a two-part professional development programme hosted by the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP). The objective of this session was to give PhD students hands-on experience of delivering scientific advice to policymakers. Students were divided into groups and asked to produce policy briefings to be judged by a panel featuring Professor Sir David King, Professor Bill Sutherland and Sam Reed. This exercise was accompanied by presentations exploring speakers’ career trajectories in academia and policy.