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25 visionary female leaders driving the climate change revolution

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In this groundbreaking feature, we delve into the inspiring lives and accomplishments of 25 remarkable women shaping our planet’s future. This article by solarempower.com will highlight these trailblazers’ contributions to renewable energy and climate change. Through their bold strategies, innovative solutions, and fearless leadership, these women are not only breaking barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields, but also leading the charge towards a sustainable and resilient future.

Get ready to be inspired by these champions of change who demonstrate that a greener future is not only possible but is being created right now, by those with the vision and courage to drive it forward.

25 women who are leaders in fighting climate change and promoting renewable energy

Here are 25 women who are the planet’s defenders and those who need help exercising their rights. Their story and experience are worth telling for our future global leaders.

  • Christiana Figueres
<b>Christiana Figueres</b>

Former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres has been a pivotal figure in the fight against climate change, recognized as a key architect behind the Paris Agreement. She served as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010 to 2016, during which time she galvanized international consensus on climate action, overcoming complex political, technical, and financial challenges inherent in global climate negotiations.

Figueres is particularly celebrated for her instrumental role in the successful negotiation of the Paris Agreement in 2015, which set a new standard for global efforts to tackle climate change. Through her leadership, she brought together national governments, corporations, and activists to achieve unprecedented progress in the global response to climate change.

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Following her tenure at the UN, Figueres co-founded Global Optimism, an enterprise focused on social and environmental change. Here, she continues to work relentlessly on climate change initiatives, instigating large-scale actions towards a sustainable future.

At Global Optimism, Figueres promotes a proactive and positive outlook towards the climate crisis, advocating for measures to mitigate the impacts of global warming.


  • Rachel Kyte
<b>Rachel Kyte</b>

Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University

Rachel Kyte, a force in sustainable development, has a longstanding career advocating for climate action and renewable energy. Prior to her current role as the Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University, she was the CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), a global initiative launched by the UN. At SEforALL, she played a pivotal role in achieving universal energy access, improving energy efficiency, and increasing the use of renewable energy.

Kyte’s leadership at SEforALL contributed significantly to progressing global climate action and mainstreaming renewable energy in the policy agendas of countries and corporations alike. She is recognized for her advocacy and thought leadership on clean, sustainable energy as a fundamental human right, particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.

In her current academic leadership role at Tufts University, Kyte continues to influence and inspire future global leaders about the importance of sustainable energy and robust climate policies.

As she leads The Fletcher School, she continues to participate actively in global dialogues on climate action, reinforcing the significance of sustainability in political, economic, and societal decision-making.


  • Laurence Tubiana
<b>Laurence Tubiana</b>

CEO of the European Climate Foundation

Laurence Tubiana, a prominent figure in international climate negotiations, has had an impactful career shaping climate policy. Her key role as France’s Climate Change Ambassador and Special Representative for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) led to the successful negotiation of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, making her a crucial figure in global climate diplomacy.

Currently serving as the CEO of the European Climate Foundation, Tubiana applies her profound understanding of climate diplomacy and policy to spearhead initiatives for transitioning Europe towards a sustainable, low-carbon future. Through strategic guidance and leadership, she is aiding in the transformation of Europe’s energy systems to ensure a cleaner, more sustainable future for all.

Tubiana’s work extends beyond Europe, as she continues to foster international cooperation for climate action and sustainable development. Her dedication and expertise make her a powerful advocate for global climate action, and her influence contributes significantly to international policies and strategies addressing the climate crisis.


  • Mary Robinson
<b>Mary Robinson</b>

Chair of The Elders

Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has utilized her influential career to advocate for climate justice and human rights. She uses her platform to address climate change from a unique perspective, framing it not just as an environmental issue, but as a pressing human rights concern.

Currently, as the Chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders committed to peace, justice, and human rights, Robinson continues her tireless work promoting climate justice. Her leadership within The Elders allows her to draw on the collective wisdom and influence of this esteemed group to advocate for those most affected by climate change.

Moreover, her Mary Robinson Foundation, Climate Justice, actively seeks to secure justice for people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly those who are often overlooked: the poor, the disempowered, and the marginalized across the world.

Her passionate advocacy and commitment to climate justice not only underscores the human dimension of climate change but also galvanizes support and action for equitable solutions.


  • Jennifer Granholm
<b>Jennifer Granholm</b>

U.S Secretary of Energy

Jennifer Granholm, a former governor of Michigan and the current U.S. Secretary of Energy, has been a consistent advocate for clean energy throughout her political career. Her dedication to clean energy policies and job creation is evident in her various initiatives focused on fostering a clean energy economy.

As the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Granholm oversees the U.S. Department of Energy, steering its mission towards ensuring America’s security and prosperity. She achieves this by addressing energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. In this role, she is not only responsible for managing the nation’s energy resources but also guiding the research and development efforts for future energy technologies.

Granholm’s leadership plays a crucial role in advancing the United States’ transition towards a clean, renewable energy future. She is helping shape a comprehensive energy policy that supports renewable energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and promotes energy efficiency, contributing to the fight against climate change on a national level.


  • Kathy Hochul
<b>Kathy Hochul</b>

Governor of New York

Kathy Hochul, serving as the Governor of New York and the first woman to hold this position, has been a firm advocate for combating climate change and promoting green initiatives. Her dedication to environmental sustainability is evident in her administration’s strategic focus on clean energy policies. 

Under Hochul’s leadership, New York has made significant strides in transitioning to renewable energy sources, demonstrating her commitment to a more sustainable and resilient state. This transition includes the acceleration of offshore wind energy projects, an initiative that harnesses the power of the ocean’s winds to provide clean energy and generate local jobs.

Hochul’s administration has also promoted the use of electric vehicles, a move that further underscores her strong commitment to a sustainable future. By fostering an environment that encourages the adoption of electric vehicles, she is helping reduce New York’s carbon footprint, advancing the state’s role in mitigating the effects of climate change.


  • Patricia Espinosa
<b>Patricia Espinosa</b>

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Patricia Espinosa, a seasoned diplomat from Mexico, currently holds the influential position of Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This position, once occupied by Christiana Figueres, places Espinosa at the forefront of international climate negotiations and policy-making.  

Throughout her tenure, Espinosa has been relentless in her pursuit of global collaboration on climate action. She recognizes the importance of multilateral cooperation in addressing the complex challenges posed by climate change and has tirelessly worked towards strengthening international commitment to the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Her leadership has been instrumental in not only continuing the efforts started by the Paris Agreement but also in pushing nations towards fulfilling their commitments to limit global warming. Espinosa’s persistent advocacy and diplomatic skills play a significant role in guiding the global response to climate change, ensuring progress, and maintaining momentum in these crucial global efforts.


  • Gina McCarthy
<b>Gina McCarthy</b>

White House National Climate Advisor

With a career spanning over three decades, Gina McCarthy has been a significant force in U.S. environmental policy. Currently serving as the first-ever White House National Climate Advisor, McCarthy is instrumental in shaping and driving the President’s ambitious climate agenda.

McCarthy’s work focuses on coordinating domestic climate action and turning climate challenges into opportunities for job creation. Her efforts underscore the idea that environmental sustainability and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive but can be pursued in tandem for the greater good.

Before her current role, McCarthy served as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a position in which she enacted significant environmental regulations and standards. Her experience at the EPA, coupled with her deep understanding of environmental issues, makes her uniquely positioned to guide the nation’s climate policy and action in a way that balances economic growth with environmental conservation.


  • Sharon Burrow
<b>Sharon Burrow</b>

General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation

Sharon Burrow, a globally recognized figure in the labor movement, is a passionate advocate for climate justice and workers’ rights. As the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, she represents a vast network of 200 million workers spanning 163 countries, embodying a strong voice for labor on the global stage.

Burrow has consistently campaigned for “just transition” principles, an approach that seeks to reconcile the need for a green, sustainable economy with the need to protect and advance workers’ rights. She advocates for policies that ensure no worker is left behind in the transition to a cleaner, greener economy, bringing the labor movement into the heart of climate change discussions.

Her work not only highlights the intersection of climate policy, renewable energy, and labor rights but also underscores the importance of social justice in environmental decision-making. Through her tireless advocacy, Burrow is demonstrating that the path to a sustainable future can and should be paved with equity and justice.


  • Katherine Hamilton
<b>Katherine Hamilton</b>

Chair of 38 North Solutions

Katherine Hamilton is an influential figure in clean energy policy and a strong advocate for technological solutions to climate change. As the Chair of 38 North Solutions, a public policy firm specializing in clean energy and innovation, Hamilton works at the forefront of renewable energy policy and technological advancement.

Hamilton’s impressive career includes co-founding multiple clean energy organizations and serving as the president of the GridWise Alliance. Her leadership in these roles has been instrumental in guiding policy decisions that promote clean energy and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Her extensive knowledge, expertise, and passion position her as a driving force in the clean energy sector, shaping the policy landscape and encouraging innovation to deliver effective, sustainable solutions. Hamilton’s work contributes to a greener future by fostering the growth and adoption of clean energy technologies and ensuring that public policy supports these crucial advancements.


  • Mindy Lubber
<b>Mindy Lubber</b>

CEO and President of Ceres

Mindy Lubber, the CEO and President of Ceres, is a recognized leader in the realm of corporate sustainability. Ceres, under her leadership, operates as a nonprofit organization, partnering with some of the most influential investors and companies to cultivate leadership and confront global sustainability challenges.

As a strong advocate for environmental and social responsibility in the business sector, Lubber guides Ceres in its mission to transform economic practices for a more sustainable world. The organization under her stewardship is actively pushing for business and policy solutions that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissionsconserve water, and create sustainable supply chains.

Lubber’s dedication to sustainable business practices has led to significant advancements in the field, helping businesses recognize that profitability and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. She continues to lead efforts to incorporate sustainability into the core of business strategy, signaling a significant shift towards responsible corporate stewardship of the planet.


  • Maria Mendiluce
<b>Maria Mendiluce</b>

CEO of the We Mean Business Coalition

Maria Mendiluce is the CEO of the We Mean Business Coalition, an influential organization committed to catalyzing business action on climate change. With a career spanning more than two decades at the nexus of science, business, and policy, Mendiluce has become a leading voice in the transition towards a low-carbon economy.  

At the helm of the We Mean Business Coalition, Mendiluce works tirelessly to mobilize businesses around the globe to set ambitious emission reduction targets and transition towards renewable energy. Her efforts involve harnessing the power of the private sector to drive forward meaningful climate action.

Mendiluce’s work has been instrumental in encouraging corporate climate action and fostering business strategies that prioritize sustainability. Her leadership in encouraging businesses to commit to ambitious climate goals is a significant force in the global transition towards a more sustainable, low-carbon economy.


  • Kate Gordon
<b>Kate Gordon</b>

Senior Advisor to the U.S. Presidential Climate Envoy

Kate Gordon, a recognized expert on the intersection of clean energy and economic development, currently serves as the Senior Advisor to the U.S. Presidential Climate Envoy. In this role, she plays a pivotal role in shaping climate, energy, and environmental policy at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Gordon provides strategic advice on a range of policy initiatives, drawing on her deep expertise in both climate change and economic policy. Her work involves integrating climate change considerations into both domestic and international policy actions, ensuring that the United States’ response to the climate crisis is comprehensive and multi-faceted.

Through her work, Gordon is actively bridging the gap between clean energy and economic development. She continues to push for strategies that not only mitigate climate change but also stimulate economic growth and job creation, demonstrating that a clean energy economy can be a driver of prosperity.


  • Elizabeth May
<b>Elizabeth May</b>

Former Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Elizabeth May, the former leader of the Green Party of Canada, is a longstanding champion for environmental issues. Over the course of her political career, she has worked tirelessly to make climate change a national priority in Canada, using her platform to advocate for strong climate change policies, conservation efforts, and the transition to renewable energy.

Although she stepped down from party leadership, May continues to serve as a Member of Parliament, remaining a powerful voice for environmental advocacy. Her work in Parliament is marked by her unwavering commitment to addressing the climate crisis, and she continues to push for bold legislative action to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

May’s relentless advocacy has ensured that climate change remains at the forefront of Canada’s political discourse, helping to shape the country’s approach to environmental sustainability. Her continued efforts underscore the necessity of political leadership in addressing the complex challenges posed by climate change.


  • Emma Howard Boyd
<b>Emma Howard Boyd</b>

Chair of the Environment Agency

Emma Howard Boyd, as Chair of the Environment Agency, is a leading figure in environmental protection and climate adaptation in the UK. Her work primarily focuses on the vital issues of climate change adaptation, particularly in the areas of flood risk mitigation and coastal resilience.

Under her leadership, the Environment Agency is playing a significant role in managing and reducing the impacts of climate change. Boyd is not only steering the agency towards making communities safer and more resilient to climate change but also enhancing the natural environment.

Through strategic planning and implementation, Boyd and her team aim to safeguard the UK from the immediate and long-term threats of climate change, while also promoting sustainable development. Her continued efforts in these areas are helping to shape a resilient future for the UK amidst the escalating challenges of climate change.


  • Margaret Kuhlow
<b>Margaret Kuhlow</b>

Leader of WWF’s Global Finance Practice

Margaret Kuhlow, the leader of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Global Finance Practice, plays an instrumental role in aligning the finance sector with sustainable development. Drawing on her extensive experience in conservation, development, and finance, Kuhlow is steering financial institutions towards integrating environmental considerations into their decision-making processes.

By influencing financial policies and strategies, Kuhlow is driving capital towards activities that benefit the planet, effectively turning financial streams into powerful tools for environmental conservation.

Her work at WWF involves advocating for sustainable finance practices, engaging with financial institutions to adopt responsible investment policies, and driving systemic change within the finance sector to support biodiversity and climate objectives. Kuhlow’s leadership is guiding the global finance industry towards a future where profitability and sustainability coexist, making a significant contribution to the global transition towards a green economy.


  • Eva Zabey
<b>Eva Zabey</b>

Executive Director of Business for Nature

Eva Zabey serves as the Executive Director of Business for Nature, a global coalition that urges businesses to advocate for action and policy change aimed at protecting nature. Recognizing the significant influence of the business sector on environmental outcomes, Zabey has dedicated her work to mobilizing a global network of influential organizations to champion policies that protect the Earth’s resources.

Under her leadership, Business for Nature is creating a powerful movement that unifies the voice of the business sector to drive meaningful, large-scale environmental action. By aligning the strategies and goals of diverse businesses with the need to preserve nature, Zabey is forging a path for the role of business in achieving sustainable development. Her work continues to highlight the interconnectedness of economic growth, business sustainability, and nature preservation.


  • Naoko Ishii
<b>Naoko Ishii</b>

Executive Vice President and Director at the Center for Global Commons, University of Tokyo

Naoko Ishii, a prominent figure in global environmental policy, is currently the Executive Vice President and Director at the Center for Global Commons, University of Tokyo. This role follows her significant tenure as the CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.

Throughout her career, Ishii has been instrumental in driving and shaping global environmental policies. Her current position allows her to spearhead research and foster dialogue that guides international cooperation on the concepts of global commons and sustainability.

Ishii’s extensive experience in global environmental governance, her scientific insights, and her commitment to international cooperation are key assets in her ongoing efforts to protect the global commons, those shared resources on which all life on Earth depends.

By promoting understanding and cooperation around these critical issues, Ishii is contributing to the creation of a global framework for the sustainable management of shared resources, helping to ensure the health and vitality of our planet for future generations.


  • Inger Andersen
<b>Inger Andersen</b>

Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme

Inger Andersen, a highly accomplished Danish economist and environmentalist, is the current Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Boasting an extensive career in the fields of sustainability and environmental governance, Andersen has been instrumental in guiding UNEP’s mission of promoting cooperation among nations and stakeholders to care for the Earth’s environment.  

Andersen’s role involves leading the charge in tackling environmental issues, from climate change and ecosystem degradation to resource scarcity. Under her direction, UNEP strives to provide leadership, deliver science, set the global environmental agenda, and foster partnerships to achieve sustainable development goals.

At the heart of Andersen’s approach is her belief in the close interconnectedness of economic growth and environmental conservation. She consistently emphasizes that the pursuit of economic growth should not be at the expense of the environment and that sustainable development can only be achieved when the two are considered in tandem.

Her leadership continues to inspire global action towards creating a green, inclusive, and resilient world.


  • Anne Hidalgo
<b>Anne Hidalgo</b>

Mayor of Paris

Anne Hidalgo, the first female Mayor of Paris, has shown unwavering commitment to transforming Paris into a greener, more sustainable city. Her tenure has been distinguished by bold initiatives aimed at combating climate change and making the city more environmentally friendly.

Under Hidalgo’s leadership, Paris has seen a decrease in car traffic and a significant expansion of bike lanes. She has introduced measures to improve air quality, enhance green spaces, and promote sustainable urban planning.

Notably, Hidalgo spearheaded the C40 Cities initiative, a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. The C40 Cities initiative allows city leaders to collaborate, share knowledge, and drive meaningful, measurable, and sustainable action on climate change.

By creating a Paris that embodies resilience and sustainability, Hidalgo is leading by example, showing the world what a green urban future can look like. Her initiatives reflect her belief in the potential of cities to spearhead environmental change and her commitment to making Paris a model for other cities around the globe.


  • Amina J. Mohammed
<b>Amina J. Mohammed</b>

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations

Amina J. Mohammed, the current Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, has devoted her illustrious career to the areas of development and sustainability. Her tenure as Nigeria’s Minister of Environment is characterized by her successful efforts to restore and enhance the country’s natural assets.

Now, as the Deputy Secretary-General, she has a pivotal role in organizing, coordinating, and promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on a global scale within the UN system. Her work involves helping countries around the world understand the SDGs and providing them with the necessary guidance to incorporate these goals into their national policies and agendas.

In addition, Mohammed assists the Secretary-General in managing the operations of the United Nations, ensuring that the organization maintains a coordinated and integrated approach to developmental issues, including climate change, sustainable development, and economic inequality.

Her leadership has been instrumental in driving progress toward a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive global society.


  • Zhang Xin
<b>Zhang Xin</b>

CEO of SOHO China

Zhang Xin, the CEO of SOHO China, is a real estate titan known for her pioneering approach to developing architecturally unique and eco-friendly buildings. Under her leadership, SOHO China has become the largest prime office property developer in Beijing and Shanghai.

Throughout her career, Zhang has challenged the conventional wisdom of the real estate industry by demonstrating that commercial success and environmental stewardship can coexist. Her developments are not only recognized for their architectural beauty and functionality but also for their environmentally conscious design and operation.

From implementing cutting-edge energy efficiency measures to prioritizing sustainable materials in construction, Zhang’s approach emphasizes environmental responsibility. Her groundbreaking work serves as a powerful example to the global real estate sector, showing that sustainable practices can be incorporated into successful business models.


  • Ellen MacArthur
<b>Ellen MacArthur</b>

Founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Ellen MacArthur, a renowned English sailor now retired, has pivoted her career towards advocating for sustainability, specifically championing the idea of a circular economy through her eponymous foundation, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The Foundation, under MacArthur’s visionary leadership, cooperates with businesses, academia, and policymakers with the goal of transitioning to an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design. It seeks to shift the paradigm from a traditional linear economy—based on a take-make-waste model—to a circular economy that emphasizes reuse, share, repair, refurbish, remanufacture, and recycle to create a closed-loop system, minimizing the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution, and carbon emissions.

Ellen MacArthur’s work is pioneering in its ability to merge economic and ecological perspectives, underscoring the necessity of transforming our systems to function harmoniously with the planet. Her influence extends to numerous businesses and governments that are now considering and implementing circular economy principles.


  • Rhiana Gunn-Wright
<b>Rhiana Gunn-Wright</b>

Director of Climate Policy at the Roosevelt Institute

Rhiana Gunn-Wright, a prominent climate policy expert, is widely recognized as one of the architects of the Green New Deal, a proposed comprehensive package of United States legislation that seeks to address both climate change and economic inequality.  

In her current role as the Director of Climate Policy at the Roosevelt Institute, Gunn-Wright concentrates on crafting innovative and effective policies to confront climate change and its manifold societal impacts. Her approach is distinguished by her deep understanding of the intersectionality of climate change.

She recognizes and emphasizes that climate change has disproportionate impacts, often adversely affecting marginalized communities the most.

Gunn-Wright is deeply committed to advocating for equitable climate policy solutions that not only address environmental challenges but also aim to rectify social inequities. Her work continues to shape the discourse on climate policy, pushing for solutions that address both environmental sustainability and social justice.


  • Connie Hedegaard
<b>Connie Hedegaard</b>

Former EU Commissioner for Climate Action

Connie Hedegaard, a respected Danish politician, made significant contributions to the European Union’s climate action policy during her tenure as the EU’s first Commissioner for Climate Action from 2010 to 2014. This role placed her at the helm of the EU’s international negotiations on climate change and spearheading efforts to transition the EU towards a low-carbon economy.

During her time as Commissioner, Hedegaard was instrumental in the EU’s development and implementation of ambitious climate policies, including setting the EU’s 2020 climate and energy targets and leading Europe’s negotiations at the UN’s annual climate conferences. Her leadership was pivotal in maintaining the EU’s position as a global leader in climate action.

Following her term as Commissioner, Hedegaard has remained an influential figure in environmental policy, notably assuming the role of Chair for Denmark’s leading green think-tank, CONCITO. In this capacity, she continues to advocate for robust policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions and transitioning towards a sustainable future. 

Through her continuous work and advocacy, Hedegaard persistently highlights the urgency of addressing climate change and the necessity of a greener, sustainable economy.


These visionary women represent the collective effort necessary to tackle the global challenge of climate change. From policy creation and business strategy to research and activism, they demonstrate that fighting climate change requires a multifaceted approach. Their dedication to promoting renewable energy and sustainable practices, along with their influential positions, have been instrumental in driving forward the renewable revolution.

These leaders embody a refreshing blend of resilience, innovation, and determination, reshaping the world’s perspective on what it means to be a steward of the planet. As we look towards the future, their contributions serve as an inspiration, highlighting that every action counts in our shared pursuit of a sustainable, renewable future.

We celebrate their achievements and unwavering commitment to addressing one of the most significant challenges of our time.

Images Sources:

International Maritime OrganizationCol. U.UNclimatechange from Bonn, GermanyNationaal Comité 4 en 5 meiU.S. Department of EnergyMetropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York from United States of America, Harlem29Executive Office of the President of the United StatesWorld Economic ForumCleantechboy888Marcus Redivo/Green Party of CanadaCIATInternational Maritime OrganizationUser:AsAuSoAmplified2010Uphill MediaMagnus Fröderberg/norden.orgInès Dieleman,

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