News & Media
News and Media
Photo courtesy of EMBARQ (World Resources Institute).
Leon J. ‘Lee’ Schipper, 64, an internationally renowned scholar in the fields of transport and energy efficiency, passed away in Berkeley, Calif., on August 16.
Schipper was a project scientist for the Global Metropolitan Studies Initiative at the University of California–Berkeley; senior research engineer for the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University; founder of the World Resources Institute’s center for sustainable transport, EMBARQ; and a longtime contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Schipper was also the father of Lisa Schipper, a senior scientist in our U.S. Center, as well as a friend and occasional partner in SEI research, and an inspiration to many of us.
“The world has lost one of the most innovative and committed thinkers on energy and development,” said Johan Rockström, executive director of SEI and director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
“Lee Schipper always had his feet on the ground, combining a deep empathy for the most vulnerable peoples with rigorous analytical skills, to provide policy relevant solutions and insights for sustainable development,” Rockström continued. “His legacy lives on, profoundly inspiring our research at SEI and among partners in development around the world.”
From Berkeley to Stockholm
A native Californian, Schipper had a strong connection to Sweden as well, with a Swedish wife, Agneta, and a special interest in Swedish policy and energy use that began with his research as a Fulbright scholar at the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics in the early 1970s.
Cecilia Ruben, now a research fellow in SEI’s EcoSanRes Programme, met him at that time and considered him a friend.
“He was quite a person, with a great character,” she said. “He had a special talent – brilliant, knowledgeable, on the forefront and social, especially through his active music playing. Going to a club, he would join the musicians and make a rather successful stint on stage.”
A unique combination
Francis X. Johnson, senior research fellow in energy and climate at SEI-Stockholm, worked with Schipper in the 1990s at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.
“Lee’s unique combination of superior intellect, scientific rigor, sharp wit and amiable manner – along with his passionate devotion to the energy/climate dilemmas of our time – brought him not only to the top of his field but close to many peoples’ hearts as well,” he said. “Even with the incredibly wide network he maintained, he remembered everyone and treated his colleagues and friends with respect.”
On a personal note, Johnson added, “I can say that the work embodied in his Fulbright scholarship in Sweden in the late 1970s was an inspiration for my own Fulbright scholarship in Sweden many years later. He will be sorely missed by his colleagues and friends around the world.”
‘Enormous intellectual contributions’
Michael Lazarus, a senior scientist in SEI’s U.S. Center, offered this memory of Schipper:
“I knew [him], not well, but enough to know what a unique and wonderful man he was, brimming with life, enchanting and engaging, intense and brilliant, warm and friendly, and though frenetically busy, always finding time to share an insight or anecdote.
“You can add my name to those legions who feel a great debt to his enormous intellectual contributions in energy, transportation, and how we live. I’ve relied on his work and insights for many years, from end-use analysis to structural decomposition to rebound effects to transportation planning.
“I can think of few scholars and activists (as he was both, with flourish and accomplishment) whose work is so imprinted in my daily professional thinking,” he concluded. “But I remember Lee just as much for his boundless energy, wonderful personality, and great warmth.”
Learn more about Lee Schipper:
Lee Schipper, dedicated to energy efficiency and environment, dies at 64 (Stanford University)
Farewell to a Master of Energy, Mobility and Vibes (New York Times)
To Lee Schipper, with love and care (EMBARQ blogpost, Aug. 2, 2011)
The Real Story on Fuel Economy (video of a January 2009 lecture by Schipper)
The Schipper family also has an online journal where friends and colleagues have posted tributes.