To source nominations for the first-ever TIME100 Climate list, TIME editors consulted the TIMECO2 advisory council, a panel of 10 prominent climate experts and sustainability leaders who work with TIMECO2 to provide strategic guidance, unique insights, and innovative solutions to enable companies on their climate journeys and instill a new culture of climate leadership.
Among the distinguished members of the advisory council are Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; Katharine Hayhoe, Chief Scientist at The Nature Conservancy; Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad; Andy Karsner, former Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy; Mark Kenber, former CEO of the Climate Group; Doug McCauley, Director of the Benioff Ocean Initiative; Tom Rivett-Carnac, co-founder of Global Optimism; Johan Rockstrom, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; Peter Schlosser, Director of the Global Futures Lab at Arizona State University; and Halla Tomasdottir, CEO of The B Team.
We asked the members of the council to tell us which business leaders’ climate action they admire most, and why. Read their responses below.
Not only is Amazon one of the largest and most influential companies in the world, it is also more at our “kitchen tables” than perhaps any other brand. As a result, Chief Sustainability Officer Kara Hurst sits in a position of remarkable power to shape our future. She has used that position well.
Over the last decade, her vision, focus and determination have pivoted Amazon to a place of climate leadership and turbo-charged a new level of responsibility and commitment from one of the world’s largest businesses. She was central to Amazon’s decision to become net zero by 2040, ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement, and has led the dedicated team through the complex process of operationalizing and scaling that commitment. This is no mean feat for anyone, but for a company growing at double digits through the pandemic, and with 1.5 million employees, the challenge has been particularly intense. Not only this, but she led the Climate Pledge to be a convenor that encouraged other companies to also hit net zero by 2040. More than 450 have already joined, creating a global community of action, innovation, and shared purpose.
These are just small parts of the leadership and achievement Kara has embodied. Through creating LEAF to advance robust nature-based solutions, to using corporate procurement as a driver for market innovation through the First Movers Coalition, to leading bold investments in new climate technology, she has held an unwavering focus on inspiring the global business community to deal with the climate crisis, even when she has had to face down detractors. Her willingness to stand up and show the way is what makes her exceptional, and I for one am glad and grateful to have someone with her grace, intelligence and fierce commitment is in such a pivotal position at such a pivotal time.
There is no one like Paul Dickinson. A true entrepreneur and visionary, Paul sees patterns and possibilities long before others do. When he acts on that insight, he changes the world. More than 20 years ago he understood that he could use the power of public disclosure to transform corporate behavior if he could find a lever that would make companies listen. Few believed it was possible. Certainly no one thought that over two decades he would assemble the largest and most powerful global investor coalition on any single issue in history and would leverage it to make corporate disclosure of climate information a de facto requirement for any listed company in the world.
Paul’s simple but hugely effective theory of change has made CDP one of the world’s most powerful NGOs and is today the largest environmental global disclosure platform for investors, companies, cities, states and regions. Much that is happening today, from the spread of ESG to the leadership of companies on climate change through to the emerging standards requiring mandatory disclosure from companies around the world all has roots in Paul’s insights and work.
There is much more that Paul has also advanced and achieved in his career. From highlighting the issue of how corporate lobbying on climate is still undermining legislative progress through to supporting the formation of Influence Map and Giki Zero to his role in the creation of collaborative platforms such as the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) and of course the podcast, Outrage and Optimism, that he and I co-host with Christiana Figueres. Throughout all of this he has stayed clear to what his objective is and I have often heard him say both privately and in speeches that his real bosses are the ice caps and that his job is to prevent them from melting, with all the human suffering that would result.
Consciously and deliberately making decisions through that lens helps prioritize what is important and the ability to keep doing this even in tough situations is a big part of what makes Paul so special. If more people were able to do this, the world would be a better place indeed.
Jesper Brodin’s relentless optimism and genuine care for humanity are infectious. He is a compassionate leader, driven by a bold vision for IKEA to contribute positively to people and the planet by 2030 — a vision which has propelled him and IKEA to the global forefront of business action to mitigate climate breakdown.
Beyond ambitious company action, initiatives such as IKEA’s One Home, One Planet event series and its Assembly Guide for a Better Future, which transparently outlines the steps the company is taking to be “climate smart,” invite others to learn and promote sustainability in their own work and lives. Jesper is also at the heart of catalyzing sector-wide action through mission-aligned networks and partnerships, such as The B Team, We Mean Business Coalition, World Economic Forum’s Climate Leader Alliance and the World Resources Institute.
Brave yet humble, Jesper leads with humanity, a solution-oriented mindset and bedrock belief in the power of people. Under his leadership, IKEA is fostering a community where everyone, regardless of their background, feels welcome and thrives. In addition to supporting frontline climate action, the company is closing the gender gap and empowering refugees through employment opportunities and efforts to center their courageous stories. Jesper believes deeply in intergenerational dialogue and established a Young Leaders Forum to advise him and his executive team on IKEA’s sustainability strategy.
Jesper’s professional journey, which began as executive assistant to IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, coupled with his embrace of egalitarianism and other Nordic values, sets him apart, as does his warmth and sterling sense of humor. In a world yearning for more leaders like him — brave, humble, compassionate — Jesper exemplifies new leadership and the radical collaboration, inclusion and transparency this moment demands.
There are business leaders that talk about climate change – and those that act. Gloria Fluxa Thienemann is about action. I first met Gloria on top of the Alps in Davos where I was sharing some frightening new research about how bad the climate crisis could become for our oceans. Gloria pulled me aside after the talk. She shared that she grew up on an island and that some of her more formative moments in life came when she was on – or often under – the sea. She was also now helping run a global resort and tourism company that was in the business of sharing the beautiful places on our ocean planet – from Aruba to Crete. Gloria was adamant that the climate-ocean catastrophe I was forecasting was not going to happen on her watch. She wanted to know exactly what needed to be done. And she reminded me that because her company was a family run business – she would start ASAP, which I came to understand meant the following day.
Gloria collected together some of the world’s best climate and ocean scientists at one her resorts in Cuba to help her team draw up a roadmap for climate-ocean action. Then one by one, things started happening. A resort in the Dominican Republic converted a beachside yoga studio into a coral restoration lab growing climate-resistant corals. A hotel in Spain started using AI to eliminate food waste – a problem that globally accounts for the same CO2 emissions footprint as the EU and US combined. Plastic straws disappeared from resorts in Mexico – in recognition that the plastics lifecycle emits about 3% of global greenhouse emissions. These actions grew and multiplied. Bottles, films, and single use plastics of all types were phased out. Solutions went from one resort to dozens of resorts. Researchers were hired from Stanford and elsewhere to make sure all these actions were underpinned by science.
Then the big one: Iberostar committed to go carbon neutral by 2030, 20 years ahead of industry peers; because we don’t have time to spare. One person, one company can’t stop climate change. But Gloria is making a dent in the problem and showing the world what it means to walk the walk of climate action.
A powerful, strong leader against climate change who receives worldwide recognition for her outstanding work to protect the Amazon rainforest – Marina Silva, Brazilian environmentalist and the current Minister of the Environment and Climate Change of Brazil, is truly a climate hero. Grown up in a rubber settlement in the Brazilian Amazon, Silvia experienced deforestation and the exploitation of forest communities first hand. She early recognized that environment protection, social justice, and sustainable development inevitably go hand in hand. As the first in her family to gain a university degree, Marina soon became politically active advocating for rainforest conservation. She served as Environment Minister of Brazil from 2003 to 2008 for the first time, and again at the beginning of 2023.
I have experienced her leadership first hand, and I dare say there are few, if any, leaders in the world that combine life experience, expert knowledge, and political action on climate and nature, for people, as Marina Silva. With perseverance, she continues to take a stand for the protection of the rainforest, its sustainable use and Brazil’s future role in climate protection, while defending the rights of indigenous people, and acting to improve the livelihood of all communities and the resilience of the living environment. Marina is an outstanding example that strength and determination can lead to positive change.
Paul Dickinson is a visionary leader and sustainability advocate. Long before most people recognized the implications of climate change for investors and their potential to drive change in the companies they own, Paul co-founded CDP (the Carbon Disclosure Project), a groundbreaking platform that has revolutionized corporate environmental reporting. His vision and dedication has propelled the CDP to become a pivotal force in driving corporate transparency and action on climate change.
Paul’s ability to inspire collaboration among businesses, investors and policymakers has reshaped the way we perceive sustainability. By emphasizing the importance of data transparency and accountability, he has laid the foundation for a more responsible and conscientious approach to business operations worldwide and catalyzed a range of other influential reporting and disclosure initiatives, both voluntary and regulatory. Under Paul’s guidance, CDP has evolved into a globally recognized initiative, influencing corporate behavior and fostering a culture of environmental responsibility.
His work has garnered deserved recognition and acclaim in the sustainability realm, but his true influence lies in the mindset shift he instigated and his impact reaches far beyond his achievements, most recently as a co-host of the highly respected Outrage and Optimism podcast. He stands as a symbol of achievable change and his legacy will continue to shape the future of sustainability, reminding us that collective efforts truly can make a difference.
Dan Ammann is a rare corporate “intrapreneur” who has operated at the highest level of global energy and transportation industries, with an unusual visionary approach to “creative destruction”. He blends ambitious technology deployment with open minded, agile adaptivity and credible business execution to align people, planet, and profitability into a self-sustaining growth strategy.
In short order, Dan has catalyzed an unprecedented multibillion dollar decarbonization business unit of the world’s largest integrated oil company, redirecting capital allocation to capturing, rather than creating greenhouse gas emissions, and spawning new business lines of record investment in carbon solutions. Perhaps it’s his Kiwi optimism and collegial disposition, but having the fortitude, technical and commercial acumen, imagination, and experience to be a rare, effective disruptor at speed and scale, makes Dan’s leadership stand out and enables greater probability that society realizes our timely aspirations for the energy transition.
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