Our Impact

Solar Panel Installation
Image via Canva.

We know what it takes to turn good ideas into policy. Together with local governments, business leaders, environmental justice advocates, climate scientists, and more, we’re pushing lawmakers in Sacramento to enact policies that will secure a climate-safe future for all. Our recent achievements include:

Advocacy for accelerated, equitable climate policies

Advancing bidirectional charging: We’re leading the charge for clean, reliable, distributed energy in the California legislature, mobilizing nearly 200 organizations to support SB 233 (Skinner). This bill — the first of its kind in the nation — will allow California to leverage electric car and school bus batteries to keep the power on during climate disasters. We secured an editorial in the Los Angeles Times and an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle supporting this vision. In late 2023, Rep. Julia Brownley (D-California) introduced federal legislation modeled on SB 233.

Leading on natural carbon sequestration: We led the movement to pass AB 1757 (C. Garcia and R. Rivas), a law to scale up natural climate solutions in California. We’re continuing in a leadership role, co-chairing the state Natural and Working Lands Coalition and working to set ambitious targets for natural carbon sequestration. We also co-led the effort that restored hundreds of millions of dollars to the state budget for natural climate solutions.

Overcoming Big Oil’s influence in Sacramento: We met with the Newsom administration to outline actions the governor should take for urgently-needed, accelerated, equitable climate action. We also secured an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee shining a light on the fossil fuel industry’s attempts to subvert our democracy. The op-ed concludes: “Lies, public manipulation, and underhanded tactics have been a part of the fossil fuel industry’s playbook for decades … It’s time for Governor Gavin Newsom and other California leaders to wise up to the industry’s dirty tricks and put a stop to them.” In September 2023, the governor announced a landmark lawsuit against major oil corporations for their decades of deceit about the climate crisis. 

Holding corporate climate polluters accountable: We activated thousands of our supporters to help pass a suite of bills holding corporate polluters accountable, including: 

  • SB 253, the Corporate Climate Data Accountability Act, which requires U.S.-based corporations doing business in California that make over $1 billion annually to publicly disclose their full carbon footprint;
  • SB 261, the Climate-Related Financial Risk Act, which requires corporations, financial institutions, and insurers to report on climate-related financial risk;
  • AB 1167, the Orphan Well Bonding Requirements Act, which requires that new owners and operators of oil and gas wells post bonds to pay for properly closing them before they are abandoned, instead of sticking taxpayers with the bill; and
  • SB X1-2, a first-in-the-nation law designed to prevent gas price-gouging and curb oil corporations’ windfall profits. 

Restoring California’s climate investments: Early in 2023, Governor Newsom proposed making $6 billion in cuts to the $54 billion, five-year climate budget approved in 2022. In response, we organized with partners to restore $3.5 billion in funding for life-saving climate programs. This included investments in extreme heat resilience, clean energy, and more.

Funding community energy resilience: Because of our work, California launched a new program to incentivize clean, resilient microgrids and energy storage across the state. Housed at the California Energy Commission, the Community Energy Resilience investment program will help Californians keep the lights on without relying on more fossil fuels, prioritizing the communities hit hardest by air pollution and power outages. The program launched with $170 million in federal funds, matched by the state. We also secured nearly $3 billion in new funding for small-scale solar and battery storage, including millions of dollars set aside for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Passing a historic climate package: We played a key role in passing a historic package of climate bills backed by Governor Newsom in 2022. This suite of bills included SB 1314, which prohibits enhanced oil recovery, a practice that leads to more dangerous oil drilling. It also included SB 1137, which requires 3,200-foot public health buffers between new oil and gas wells and the places where Californians live, work, and play. Almost immediately after this bill was signed into law, oil corporations launched a multi-million-dollar campaign to overturn it. The Climate Center and our allies continue to fight for public health protections in the face of oil executives’ greed and misinformation. 

Raising climate ambition: Our collaborative research and organizing led Governor Newsom to champion bolder climate goals. In 2022, the governor directed state agencies to evaluate reaching carbon neutrality ten years ahead of current policy and embraced a 2030 emissions reduction goal informed by The Climate Center’s research.

Advancing clean, locally-controlled energy: We played a pivotal role in scaling Community Choice Energy across California, bringing clean, affordable, reliable energy to more than 11 million people. Most recently, we helped bring Community Choice Energy to Stockton, a huge step forward for the Central Valley’s energy future. 

The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen and Governor Gavin Newsom
The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen and Governor Gavin Newsom. Photo by Ryan Schleeter / The Climate Center.

Policy research and outreach

Our research provides guidance to policymakers, partners, and activists on how to make bold ideas a reality in California. We help to demystify complex topics, as well as direct state policies and investments toward the most equitable, effective climate solutions. 

Our webinar program has reached more than 7,000 activists, business leaders, and government officials at all levels and engaged them to take action for a climate-safe future. 

As an official observer organization to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), we secured entrance badges for California legislators and other state decision-makers to attend COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom and COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. This allowed state leaders to share California’s climate progress on a global stage while also learning from their counterparts around the world, catalyzing bolder action at home. Our delegation will travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates for COP28 in December.

Mobilizing for policy change

Partnerships are critical to our success. We’re actively engaged in multiple statewide and regional coalitions, including the Building Decarbonization Coalition, the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, Charge Ahead Coalition, Coalition for a California Green New Deal, Green California, Healthy Soils Network, Last Chance Alliance, Let’s Green CA, the Orange County Climate Coalition, ​​the Refinery Transitions Working Group, VISIÓN Allies, and more. 

We also lead coalitions, including:

  • Microgrid Equity Coalition: The Microgrid Equity Coalition includes Reclaim Our Power, California Environmental Justice Alliance, California Alliance for Community Energy, Vote Solar, the Sierra Club, and Grid Alternatives. Together, we advocate for environmental justice in proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission. This year, The Climate Center brought on a new Community Energy Resilience Project Manager to help our local partners access federal and state funding for clean, resilient, distributed energy projects. 
  • Natural and Working Lands Coalition: The Climate Center co-convenes 26 organizations from across California to advance natural carbon sequestration and other natural climate solutions. These include the California Climate and Agriculture Network, Carbon Cycle Institute, Pacific Forest Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, TreePeople, and more.

California Climate Policy Summit and Lobby Day: In April 2023, we hosted the second annual California Climate Policy Summit in Sacramento. With nearly 300 people in attendance, we brought together climate and environmental justice leaders, business and labor leaders, and state policymakers in pursuit of accelerated, equitable climate action. Featured speakers included numerous California legislators, Lauren Sanchez, the governor’s Senior Climate Advisor, and activist and Goldman Prize-winner Nalleli Cobo, who spoke about the impact of oil and gas production on frontline communities.

Mobilizing climate voters: In 2022, we launched a grassroots, climate power-building effort in Sacramento, reaching more than 12,000 people in just a few months. We build connections in communities — facilitating conversations neighbor-to-neighbor — to educate and mobilize people to vote for the climate. 

Climate-Safe California endorsements: We’ve secured more than 2,000 endorsements of the Climate-Safe California platform, including hundreds of elected officials, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and local governments, as well as more than 1,000 individuals throughout California.