The 20 People Helping Cool the Planet by 2050

As the world races to rein in carbon emissions by the globally agreed climate change tipping point of 2050, many in government are helping curb fossil fuel use by more than their fair share. However, to massively cool the planet these efforts need to multiply manifold.

Why government? Clearly, tirelessly working entrepreneurs, investors, and activists lead the charge on technological and financial innovations, as well as social interventions, that will tip the scale towards lower temperatures.

But the operative word is scale. While those sectors tend to attract bright minds and often set the carbon-cutting ball in motion, only governments — from the local to global levels — have the mandate, power, and policy-making heft to materially grow these endeavors, and their impacts.

Critical to meeting ambitious ‘moon shot’ goals are emissions standardization, deep, expensive research; global agreements, and a radical shift in how we handle complex systems — ecosystems, cement, and all.

Many of those helping dial back emissions live far from glamorous cities and their spotlights. But they are doing important work in the trenches that scream for recognition. And their ranks need to grow.

Over the coming months we will celebrate 20 individuals around the globe who are doing this critical work. They labor in a range of sectors — creating carbon markets, building with organic materials, and boosting water supply in conflict zones — to name a few. They include a leader in Jakarta bulk buying solar panels for a stretch of islands, female researchers at U.S. labs, and young mayors and energy ministers in Latin America electrifying bus fleets and bolstering coastal defenses through massive planting projects.

You will hear from them, in their own words, about what drew them to government work, how their efforts are helping curb climate change, and what should entice young people to join them. Join us in applauding these civil servants and consider how you might work with them to cool the planet by 2050.

Carolyn Whelan

Carolyn is a writer, editor and analyst who covers the nexus between business and social justice issues. She broke into journalism at the Rio Earth Summit where she interviewed Al Gore and environmental pioneer David Brower. Topics covered since then range from climate change and higher education costs to drugs pricing, geopolitical strife, business ethics, artificial intelligence, gene editing, alternative energy and the search for good jobs -- and innovation in all these areas. Her pieces, reported from Europe, the US and South America have appeared in Fortune, Newsweek, the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal and SciAm.com. Previously she worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit, Barrons.com, Columbia Business School, WWF, the UN and PwC. Carolyn is fluent in French and Spanish and resides in Brooklyn.

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