TIME’s mission is to tell the stories of the world’s most influential individuals and to recognize their contributions to life on this planet. And there is perhaps no greater form of influence today than working to combat the climate crisis, an imperative that has long animated TIME’s coverage of the problem. Last year TIME created TIME CO2, a platform for climate action, and now, in partnership with it, is launching the Earth Awards to recognize leading figures in the most important work there is.
Our first Earth Awards honorees embody values we see as pillars of a more sustainable future. Mark Ruffalo and Gloria Walton have, for a decade, worked together at the Solutions Project, fighting for the belief that clean energy increases racial equity. Lisa P. Jackson joined the Environmental Protection Agency in 1987; after rising through the ranks to become the agency’s administrator in 2009, she left to become Apple’s environmental director in 2013, in charge of how the world’s most valuable company is addressing the ongoing climate crisis. Vanessa Nakate, just 26 years old, is already one of the world’s most influential voices calling for a comprehensive overhauling of the global economy, arguing for a green transition that corrects the global inequities wrought by the fossil-fuel century. And for six years António Guterres has used his platform as Secretary-General of the U.N. to make climate the first line item on the global agenda for change.
We face a planet-scale problem. These five honorees show that individuals can make a difference. Here’s what they have to say.
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