The World's 5 Most Inspiring Green Leaders

Photo credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty

South Korea's Lee Myung-bak

As the head of Hyundai, the country's largest conglomerate, in the 1970s and 80s, Lee helped build much of postwar South Korea transforming a poor, farm-based economy into one of Asia’s great success stories.

When Lee became mayor of Seoul in 2002, he helped clean a dirty waterway that had been buried beneath a concrete highway system in the 1970s. He also overhauled the city's transportation system, adding clean rapid-transit buses.

Recently, as president, Lee’s government launched new energy conservation program, which requires yellow label on electronic devices that spend more than one watt in standby mode. The plan has a second phase that may soon be implemented, where car owners will be forbidden to drive on one designated weekday, and violators will be fined.

Koreans are increasingly prioritizing environmental issues alongside their president: a recent poll indicated that 53 percent think environmental protection is more important than economic development.

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President-elect Barack Obama (???)

If President-elect Obama follows through with many of his campaign promises, he may swiftly earn a place among the world’s most inspiring green leaders. Certainly his mention of “a planet in peril” during his speech on election night was encouraging.

His senior advisers have said Obama will introduce a major climate change bill in an attempt to bring the US back into the international environment fold, according to The Guardian.

He is also expected to announce a goal of reducing US greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and then cutting them by 80% by 2050. Obama supports a cap-and-trade system with carbon permits auctioned off to industries to encourage them to reduce emissions.

During the campaign, Obama spoke of a $175 billion economic-stimulus package intended to revamp the US energy economy by creating five million new "green" jobs. You can also see our post on 7 Executive Orders President Obama Should Sign to Protect the Environment: Center for Progressive Reform.

More on Green Leaders:
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U.S. Green Party
Project Interchange's Green Movers and Shakers From Europe Experience Israel Through a Green Lens
Elizabeth May Elected Leader of the Green Party of Canada
Obama's Hawaii Alma Mater a Green Leader

Tags: Alternative Energy | Australia | Germany | Iceland | Renewable Energy | United Kingdom | United States


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