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Great Scientists

Ernst Weizsäcker


Ulrich von Weizsäcker, German environmentalist

Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, b. 1939, is a prominent German scientist and politician. He is a popular author, with best-selling books like 'Factor Four', the update to the Club of Rome 'Limits to Growth', which explains how a sustainable economy requires reductions in consumption and increases in efficiency of this order of magnitude.

  • Nationality
  • German

  • Subject
  • environment, sustainability

  • Fields
  • physics, chemistry, economy

  • Distinctions
  • WWF Gold Medal, 1986

    German Environment Award (Deutscher Umweltpreis der Deutschen Bundesstiftung Umwelt), 2008

    Bavarian Conservation Prize for his work for climate change and sustainable economy (Bayerischer Naturschutzpreis als Vordenker des Klimaschutzes und Streiter für nachhaltige Wirtschaft), 2015

  • Posts
  • Professor Weizsäcker holds and has held many important positions, including:

    Member of the German Parliament (SPD - Socialist Party of Germany), 1998 - 2005.

    1991 till 2000 President of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy.

    1984 till 1991 director of the European Environmental Policy Institute (Direktor des Instituts für Europäische Umweltpolitik).

    Member of the Club of Rome since 1991, co-president since 2012.

    Co-chairman of the International Resource Panel for the UNEP (UN Environment Programme).

    Honorary member of the World Future Council

  • Publications
  • Earth Politics (1994)

    Factor Four: Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Use (1995), the new report from the Club of Rome (Faktor Vier. Doppelter Wohlstand – halbierter Naturverbrauch. Der neue Bericht an den Club of Rome), with Amory B. Lovins und L. Hunter Lovins.

    Factor 5, the formula for sustainable development (2009) (Faktor Fünf. Die Formel für nachhaltiges Wachstum)

    Limits to Privatization (2005)

  • Theories
  • Factor Four: in order to ensure a sustainable economic future, mankind must reduce its consumption and increase its efficient use of resources by a factor of four.

Professor Weizsäcker comes from a famous academic family, and has been influential in determining European environmental policies for five decades. He has been a university lecturer, politician, UN policy-maker, and author.