Annual Report 2022

Thank you for making 2022 a breakthrough year for climate action in California

I’m proud of what my team accomplished with The Climate Center this year. Together, we passed a foundational law for nature-based carbon sequestration that will fight the climate crisis and protect California’s frontline communities. Not only that, but we built a movement of people and organizations speaking up for proven, equitable climate solutions.”

Cristina Garcia, California Assemblymember

Big steps forward in 2022

Letter from CEO Ellie Cohen and Board Chair Susan A. Thomas

Ellie Cohen, CEO
Susan Thomas
Susan Thomas, Board Chair

It’s been a banner year for climate progress in California — and we’re just getting started. 

Thanks to the support of our generous donors, The Climate Center played a pivotal role in making this a breakthrough year for climate action in California. Together with many partners, we:

  • Passed a historic law to scale up natural carbon sequestration in California (AB 1757, C. Garcia and R. Rivas). 
  • Because of our work, the state launched a new program to invest in community energy resilience and clean electricity, prioritizing frontline and working-class communities. 
  • Secured almost $3 billion in new funding for distributed energy resources, such as rooftop solar and battery storage.
  • Catalyzed Governor Newsom to champion a bolder emissions reduction target for 2030.
  • Brought Community Choice Energy to Stockton, a milestone for clean, reliable, and affordable energy in the Central Valley.

We’re proud of these victories and we hope you are, too. Our work is only possible because of you, our dedicated community of donors, activists, and volunteers. We’re grateful to have you by our side, and we’ll need to stand strong together in the fights that lay ahead. Already, fossil fuel interests and investor-owned utilities are plotting to reverse our hard-fought wins. 

Even so, the momentum is shifting in our favor. Victories that didn’t seem possible just a year ago are now within our reach. With the wind in our sails, there’s so much more we can and must accomplish to secure a climate-safe future for all. 

California is still grappling with prolonged drought, life-threatening heatwaves, and devastating wildfires. Our century-old power grid is failing under the stress of the climate crisis, leaving millions of people vulnerable to power outages during climate disasters. And air pollution from fossil fuels is poisoning far too many of our communities. 

We know a better world is possible. 

At The Climate Center, we envision a future where everyone in California enjoys clean air and water, renewable and reliable energy, healthy food, thriving nature, and more. That’s the future our team is working toward every day as we build the movement for a Climate-Safe California.

We’re setting bold goals for 2023 because the climate crisis demands nothing less. You’ve helped create the momentum we need to put California back in the lead on climate. Now, let’s ride this wave of ambition to secure a climate-safe future for all. 

With gratitude,

Ellie Cohen, CEO, The Climate Center

Susan A. Thomas, Chair of the Board, The Climate Center

Who we are

Since 2001, The Climate Center has been a leader in making climate solutions a reality in California at speed and scale. We are a think-tank, do-tank working to turn bold ideas into action for a climate-safe future. 

Our mission

We’re working to rapidly reduce climate pollution at scale, starting in California.

Sign reading “System Change Not Climate Change.” Image via Canva.

Our vision

We believe in thriving, healthy communities. We envision a future where everyone in California enjoys clean air and water, renewable and reliable energy, healthy food, thriving nature, and more. 

California has the tools and know-how to make this vision a reality — if our elected leaders act with the urgency the climate crisis demands. California must put policies in place as soon as possible to accelerate equitable climate action, putting us on track to remove more climate pollution than we emit while securing resilient communities for all by 2030. That’s how we’ll keep our friends and loved ones safe from worsening climate disasters, create millions of family-sustaining jobs, and give everyone the chance to thrive in the clean energy economy. 

As goes California, so goes the world. Working together, we will ensure California leads once again toward a climate-safe future for all.

Our guiding principles

Our work is guided by three core principles: follow the science, prioritize climate justice for frontline communities, and secure a just transition for workers.

  • Follow the latest science. We know that the bar for climate action is set by what science demands and the climate impacts people are already experiencing, not what pundits deem possible. We’re working to bring California’s climate ambition in line with what the latest science says is necessary.
  • Prioritize climate justice. Marginalized communities — Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian people as well as working-class communities across race — are bearing the brunt of California’s climate crisis. The fossil fuel economy prioritizes short-term profit over people’s health. Working together, we can ensure that all Californians enjoy equitable access to climate solutions and the benefits of clean energy. 
  • Secure a just transition for workers. As we transition away from oil and gas and toward renewable energy, policymakers must ensure fossil fuel workers and their families aren’t left behind. That means creating millions of family-sustaining jobs in clean energy, providing workforce training and job placement for workers in transition, and protecting workers’ pensions and healthcare benefits.
Climate Justice banner at protest. Image via Canva.
Pedestrians in a cityscape. Image via Canva.

What we do

We work across California with businesses, local governments, labor unions, environmental justice leaders, and nonprofits to deliver the equitable climate solutions that will ensure a climate-safe future for all.

We conduct research, draft policy, mobilize climate advocates, convene partners across sectors, and help state leaders make sense of the latest climate science. Our work helps Californians all over the state turn their concern about the climate crisis into action, building support for climate-friendly policies that will create a thriving, healthy California.

It’s been a breakthrough year for climate action in California thanks to organizations like The Climate Center. The more we invest in climate solutions today, the more lives and dollars we’ll save down the line. I’m glad to be working with The Climate Center to turn ideas into action for a climate-safe future.”

John Laird, California State Senator

The challenge

The climate crisis is hitting harder and faster than scientists predicted even a few years ago. As the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently warned, we are witnessing a “code red” moment for humanity. 

Devastating wildfires, toxic smoke, extreme heat, and crippling drought have become the new normal for Californians, disproportionately harming people of color and lower-income communities. If we don’t quickly and dramatically change course, these climate extremes will only get worse. The longer we delay action, the more costly these disasters become — in both dollars and human lives. 

This crisis requires bold, comprehensive action now. 

The Fairview Fire killed two people and burned 28,000 acres near Riverside County in 2022. Photo via CALFIRE.
The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen with Governor Gavin Newsom.


We know what it takes to turn bold ideas into policy. Together with local governments, environmental nonprofits, 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.


  • We led the charge for natural carbon sequestration in the California legislature in 2022, mobilizing more than 80 organizations to help pass AB 1757 (C. Garcia and R. Rivas). This new law will help California scale up proven, cost-effective practices that store carbon in the soil and improve food and water security. The bill’s co-sponsors were the Carbon Cycle Institute, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, and Pew Charitable Trusts.
  • Because of our work, the state 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.
  • We secured nearly $3 billion in new funding for clean, distributed energy like small-scale solar and battery storage. This includes state investments of $900 million in residential solar and storage, with 70 percent of that funding set aside for low-income households through the California Public Utilities Commission. It also includes $1 billion through the California Energy Commission and another $1 billion authorized for distributed energy resources in the Diablo Canyon extension bill. 
  • We led the effort that resulted in Governor Newsom championing bolder goals for reducing climate pollution by 2030 — from 40 percent below 1990 levels to 55 percent. Our research and collaborative advocacy also resulted in the governor requiring the California Air Resources Board to include scenarios for reaching carbon neutrality by 2035, ten years earlier than current policy, in California’s newest five-year, draft climate plan.
  • We secured a unanimous vote to bring Community Choice Energy to Stockton, a significant step forward for clean, affordable energy in the Central Valley. 
California Capitol. Image via Canva.


  • We published the report Setting an Ambitious Sequestration Goal for California’s Working Lands, which demonstrates the enormous potential for carbon sequestration on California’s working and urban lands. 
  • We published a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Policy Brief to help policymakers and partners understand what CCS is and is not. CCS has most often been used to continue fossil fuel production despite being heavily promoted as a climate solution by oil and gas interests.
  • We launched a grassroots, climate power-building effort in Sacramento that reached 32,000 people, identified more than 7,000 individuals committed to supporting state climate champions, and cultivated 48 neighborhood leaders in just a few months. We’re building connections in communities — facilitating conversations neighbor-to-neighbor — to educate and mobilize people to vote for a climate-safe future. 
  • Our webinar program has reached more than 5,000 activists, business leaders, and government officials at all levels and engaged them to take action for a climate-safe future. 
  • In 2021, The Climate Center was accepted as an official observer organization to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). We attended COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, and COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt with climate champions in the California legislature.


  • We’ve secured more than 1,700 endorsements of the Climate-Safe California platform, including 97 elected officials, 161 non-governmental organizations, 124 businesses, 13 local governments, and more than 1,000 individuals throughout California. 
  • In April 2022, we hosted the first annual California Climate Policy Summit in Sacramento. With more than 200 people in attendance, we brought together climate and environmental justice leaders, and state policymakers in pursuit of accelerated, equitable climate action. 
  • We convened 18 organizations, including environmental justice and national environmental organizations with California chapters, to find common ground on policy priorities for 2022. This catalyzed ongoing investment from private funders to continue convening these climate leaders and culminated in a joint coalition effort supporting historic climate legislation. 
  • The Climate Center continues to convene the Microgrid Equity Coalition, which 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. Because of our advocacy, these agencies are engaging in first-of-their-kind community listening sessions and the state allocated $30 million in capacity-building grants for local involvement in California energy policy.
  • Partnerships are critical to our success. We’re actively engaged in multiple statewide 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 Natural and Working Lands Working Group, the Refinery Transitions Working Group, VISIÓN Allies, and more. We’re also building power together with our Climate-Safe California core partners: Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, California Environmental Voters, CivicWell, and Labor Network for Sustainability.
Image via Canva.
Ferry Building with pedestrians. Image by Canva

Climate-Safe California

We know what it takes to turn good ideas into policy. That’s why we launched the Climate-Safe California campaign in 2019. 

Endorsed by hundreds of businesses, elected officials, and nonprofits, and more than 1,000 individuals, Climate-Safe California offers climate solutions at the speed and scale that science demands. It’s a set of policies that would allow California to remove more climate pollution from the atmosphere than we emit by 2030 while creating thousands of jobs and building a more equitable clean energy economy. 

The platform is built on four pillars:

  • Phase out fossil fuels from our vehicles, power grid, homes, and more;
  • Scale up carbon natural sequestration; and
  • Invest in resilient communities and clean energy systems; and
  • Unlock public and private funding for climate action.

These initiatives fit together like pieces of a puzzle: we need to pursue all of them in tandem to deliver on the promise of a climate-safe future. If we can do this in California — soon to become the fourth-largest economy in the world — we can do it anywhere.

The science supports the fact that California’s climate crisis is real, with dangerous and accelerating impacts on our vulnerable populations. Climate-Safe California offers a powerful solution that will hopefully catalyze similar efforts in other states, the nation, and the world.”


Our approach

Our staff and experts are laser-focused on equitably reducing climate pollution at the speed and scale necessary to secure a climate-safe future. We make change through an ambitious and achievable vision, developing science-based research to drive policy, and mobilizing a powerful coalition of climate advocates across sectors.

We help Californians turn their concern about the climate crisis into action, building momentum for climate-friendly policies that benefit nature and our communities.

Rooftop solar installers. Image via Canva.

Our theory of change

The climate crisis is a sprawling, complex challenge. It touches every aspect of our society, threatening the foundations of our economy, the health of our communities, and the very stability of our planet. Big challenges like this require systemic solutions. 

Together with local governments, labor unions, business leaders, environmental organizations, climate justice advocates, and more, we’re pushing lawmakers in Sacramento to enact accelerated, equitable climate policies.

These bold policies will unleash innovation across the economy and channel market forces, making climate-friendly choices accessible to everyone. With the whole of our government and economy moving in the right direction, we’ll reduce climate pollution and increase climate resilience at the speed and scale required to secure a healthy, climate-safe future for all.


Funding Sources 2022

Individual Donations$1,660,86969%
Business Sponsorship$245,40010%
Foundation Grants$467,50019%
Government Grants$29,1801%
In-Kind support$1,1500%
Conference tickets$15,1451%
Interest & Investment activity, net($2,952)0%

Expenses 2022

Management & General$344,96814%

For detailed financial statements, click here.