Women for the climate: 10 names you need to know

8 Feb 2021
5 min read

Celebrating International Women’s Day with the pioneering names tackling climate change.

 It’s International Women’s Day on 8th March – a day dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the globe. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge, and with climate change remaining one of the biggest challenges of our time, we’re honouring 10 women that are putting themselves front and centre in the fight for a fairer and more sustainable world.


  1. Joanna Haigh

Now-retired climate change researcher and physicist Joanna Haigh spent her academic career focusing on the cyclical nature of the sun’s activity. Climate change deniers tried to argue that the sun’s natural fluctuations were responsible for global warming, but Joanna’s work – involving satellites and data modelling – demonstrated that this is not the case, and that while we do feel the effect of this activity to a small degree, it’s not what’s driving the changing climate. The methods that she’s developed are used all over the world by climate and atmospheric researchers and she was a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

  1. Carolyn Cobbold

Dr Carolyn Cobbold is the co-founder of the Manhood Peninsula Partnership in West Sussex. Since the late 1990s she’s focused her efforts on protecting the area from flooding, and her tireless campaigning and research – which is used by other coastal protection projects around the country – has resulted in ‘Medmerry’, the largest coastal realignment project in Europe, which protects 300 hectares of important and biodiverse habitats.

Follow her on Twitter @DrCobbold

  1. Brenda Boardman

You’ll be familiar with Dr Brenda Boardman’s work, even if you don’t realise it. She’s the woman responsible for bringing energy efficiency labelling to UK appliances. The domestic energy researcher has noted in the past that the EU-wide A+++ to G ratings weren’t originally welcomed by retailers because “customers don’t care about energy efficiency”, but they were swiftly proven wrong! Brenda’s wider research is focused on energy use in British homes, and the existence and growth of fuel poverty.

  1. Judy Webb

Former biology teacher Dr Judy Webb is extremely passionate about ecology, and has spent the last 25 years dedicating her free time to conservation projects around her home county of Oxfordshire. She works to conserve rare species of flies, fungi and mosses, and according to Thames Valley Environment Records Centre, she’s contributed well over 37,000 records of local species and habitats. Also – and how’s this for an amazing party trick – she can identify what kind a pollen a bee makes just by looking at its back legs!

Follow her on Twitter @judyweb32049878

  1. Kate Marvel

Climate scientist Dr Kate Marvel cuts through environmental misinformation with storytelling, using blog posts, tweets and podcasts to communicate the facts about climate change. In 2013, as a postdoctoral researcher with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Kate helped discover that human activity has almost definitely changed global rainfall patterns. Today she’s an associate research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University, where she studies climate models and tree rings, and has discovered that climate change has been affecting drought since 1900.

Follow her on Twitter @DrKateMarvel

  1. Miranda Wang

As a high school student, Miranda Wang took a field trip to a local waste-management facility and was appalled at the amount of plastic waste she saw bound for landfill. Now, she’s the CEO and co-founder of Silicon Valley startup BioCellection, which transforms the most commonly used and unrecyclable plastics into new materials using innovative technology. According to Miranda, plastics are “just natural compounds and natural carbons tied together in an unnatural way, and once you disrupt that, you can use those natural building blocks to make anything.” Her work has prompted interest from multiple groups, including the UN Environment Programme, and in 2018, she was honoured as the United Nations Young Champion of the Earth.

Follow her on Twitter @mirandaywwang

  1. Inez Fung

Born in Hong Kong, Dr Inez Fung received her PhD in meteorology from MIT in 1977 – a time when women in STEM was almost unheard of. Since then, she’s worked as a professor of atmospheric science at the University of California-Berkeley, and served as the co-director of the Berkeley institute of the Environment. Inez has co-authored some of the most influential reports in the climate science field, including the third and fourth assessment reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

  1. Tamsin Edwards

Climate scientist Dr Tamsin Edwards has made a name for herself as a prolific, fearless communicator, and devotes much of her time debating climate sceptics online, armed with facts and reason. Initially trained in high energy physics, Tamsin then began exploring uncertainty in earth system modelling, which led to her popular blog, ‘All Models are Wrong’. She’s co-authored IPCC reports, and is now based at King’s College London researching rising sea levels. Recently she contributed to the BBC podcast ‘39 Ways to Save the Planet.

Follow her on Twitter @flimsin

  1. Lesley Hughes

Lesley Hughes is a globally-recognised expert on the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems, but she’s also notable for her role in the Australian Climate Council. This is an independent, crowd-funded non-profit organisation created by former members of the Climate Commission, which had been a government organisation until it was abolished following the election of Tony Abbott. Lesley therefore plays a key role in both understanding biodiversity loss and mitigating the ongoing battle between climate scientists and sceptic politicians.

Follow the Australian Climate Council on Twitter @climatecouncil

  1. Uma Rajarathnam

Dr Uma Rajarathnam is the head of applied research and collaboration at Enzen, a consultancy in the low carbon energy space. She has worked on various assignments with international bodies such as the IPCC, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Health Organisation, the World Bank and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. As well as publishing more than 30 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and books, her work on climate change has been recognised as a contributing activity towards the UN IPCC, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. 

For more inspirational women working to fight climate change, including activists, lawyers, politicians and volunteers, check out the Woman’s Hour Power List 2020, featuring 30 brilliant women whose work is making a significant positive contribution to the environment and the sustainability of our planet.


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