The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
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By Al Gore
September 15, 2021 7:16 AM EDT

May 26, 2021, may go down in history as a turning point toward accountability for the fossil-fuel industry and its central role in creating the climate crisis that threatens our way of life.

That day, while American companies ExxonMobil and Chevron faced unprecedented rebukes from their own shareholders, in the Netherlands, attorney Roger Cox helped set an even more significant precedent: winning a David vs. Goliath legal battle against Royal Dutch Shell that requires it to reduce its emissions 45% by 2030.

The Dutch court’s ruling sent shock waves through corporate boardrooms around the world, marking the first time a company has been held legally accountable to the Paris Agreement. Acting on behalf of more than 17,000 Dutch citizens, Cox’s innovative approach drew upon the latest climate science, breaking important ground that could compel businesses around the globe to act ambitiously to safeguard the well-being of future generations.

This victory, paired with Cox’s previous landmark case that forced the Dutch government to reduce its emissions 25% by 2020, shows that we don’t need to wait for slow progress on intangible goals. We have the ability—and the precedent—to demand concrete climate action now.

Gore is a former Vice President of the U.S., and founder and chairman of the Climate Reality Project

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