The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Wiktor Dabkowski—picture alliance/dpa/AP
By Christiana Figueres
September 15, 2021 7:19 AM EDT

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report leaves no doubt about the fact that we stand on the edge of a precipice beyond which human prosperity on this planet can no longer be taken for granted. Unless we radically change our ways, we severely endanger our social, political and economic future.

Frans Timmermans, executive vice president of the European Commission, understands the risk we face, and has stepped up. He has presented the Fit for 55 program in the E.U., an ambitious package of regulatory instruments to cut E.U. greenhouse-­gas emissions by 55% by 2030—an important milestone toward the goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

The long-term gain of the policies is clear and compelling. Though the short-term implementation is much more of a challenge, Timmermans is committed to ensuring justice in the transition. He walks where few have ventured forth, but where all nations must follow.

Figueres is a co-founder of Global Optimism and a former executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change

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