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Ramon Mendez  

Head of Climate Change Policy, Uruguay

In the 1970s oil generated half of Uruguay’s electricity. Now renewables provide 94.5%, making this South American nation of 3 million a guiding light in how to decarbonize your economy. As national director of energy, Méndez oversaw the transformation, capitalizing on the nation’s blustery weather to build wind farms and tapping hydropower and biomass. “The decisions Uruguay took benefited the climate yet also made economic sense,” says Joe Thwaites, research analyst at the World Resources Institute. Méndez’s next ambitious goal: an 88% cut in carbon emissions by 2017.

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