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William McDonough is one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential Climate Leaders in 2023

Photo courtesy William McDonough

The single most important action for the public is for everyone to get engaged at the local level, to personally be aware of and enjoy the benefits of positive action. The single most important action for companies is to move beyond the “be less bad” notion of net zero to the important idea of also “being more good”—net-positive commerce.

Governments can observe examples of climate-positive leadership around the world and be inspired to engage the principled and profitable opportunities in their own communities. They can also reduce direct and/or indirect subsidies for greenhouse gas-emitting activities while encouraging incentives to support desirable cost-effective, clean alternatives at every scale.

John F. Kennedy stated in September 1962, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” Today, we can choose to get back down to earth and get back down to business with climate-positive actions. When designing NASA’s Sustainability Base on earth, I learned that many of the engineers who put Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969 were students when President Kennedy announced the goal; they succeeded ahead of schedule. My hope is that this year youth everywhere will lean in to climate solutions with all their creative and intellectual energy, thus inspiring each other, their parents, and the general public.