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10 Women Leading the Fight Against Climate Change

Originally published by Christina Jansen for Earth.org

Although women roughly make up half of the global population and are more vulnerable to climate change due to cultural, social, and economic factors, many women are leading the fight to protect our environment.

While not exhaustive, this list includes ten women who are tirelessly working to lead the fight against climate change through action, policy, and education.

10 Women Leading in the Fight Against Climate Change

1. Elizabeth May 

Leader of the Green Party of Canada

May is a Canadian environmentalist, lawyer, and politician. She is currently serving as the leader of the Green Party of Canada, and previously covered the same position from 2006 to 2019. This makes her the longest-running female leader of a Canadian federal party. A driving force between indigenous and environmental issues alike, she has recently come out of retirement to ensure that Canada is committed to their targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement

“We should face the science clear-eyed with a serious intent that acknowledges we cannot afford to hit the snooze button on this report because this time the scientists are telling us that 1.5°C is far more dangerous than we thought it was,” May said in a statement to the House of Commons.

Throughout her career, her moral compass has not swayed nor has she sacrificed her values to get ahead. She has been a powerful advocate for the environment and marginalised communities. She is a climate change realist who pushes back on Canada’s MPs. In a 2023 interview with Global News, May said Canada is in a “new kind of climate denial by continuing to push policies that won’t meet international obligations to reduce carbon emissions.”

2. Marina Silva

Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Brazil

Speaking at the 28th Conference of the Parties, COP28, Silva discussed the importance of prioritising the environment and pushed developed countries to set an example. Experiencing the deforestation of Brazil’s rainforests firsthand, Silvia has become a driving force for change in Brazil.  

In the 1980s, Silvia became one of the architects of a grassroots resistance group against deforestation of the tropical rainforests and indigenous lands in Brazil. The efforts resulted in the protection of two million hectares of forests and the livelihoods of hundreds of indigenous people. 

As Brazil’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Silva has helped push for several bills and regulations to protect the Amazon and prevent deforestation, such as the Public Forest Management Bill and the Atlantic Forest Bill. These frameworks helped reduce deforestation rates by 84% between 2004 and 2012. 

Following Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro’s defeat in Brazil’s 2022 presidential elections, Lula announced Silva’s return as Minister of the Environment. Since their appointment, deforestation in the Amazon has decreased exponentially.

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