Our Mission is Simple: Stop the Climate Crisis!

San Diego, CA   |


Climate Action Campaign’s mission is to win a Zero Carbon future through effective policy action at the regional level. We organize this vital work into Five Fights through a lens of equity and justice: 100% Clean Electricity; All-Electric Homes; Bikeable/Walkable Neighborhoods; World-Class Transit; and Resiliency. In the next ten years, Climate Action Campaign will implement a replicable, and scalable regional model for an equitable transition to Zero Carbon. Cities are leading the way on climate solutions and we leverage this innovation and creativity to model solutions that can be scaled and replicated around the world.

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Executive Director

Nicole Capretz

Main address

3900 Cleveland Ave, Suite 208

San Diego, CA 92103 USA

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Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (C01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (R01)

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?


Climate change demands a revolution to democratize all forms of power—fossil fuels, solar, wind and most importantly, economic and political power.
CAC believes we need a world with 100% clean energy for all—where all communities have clean, healthy places to live, work, and play; all receive a fair share of the economic, environmental, health, and social benefits of a clean energy future; and where we decentralize power and put control back in the hands of local communities.

Low-income communities of color are on the front lines of the climate crisis, with fewer resources to protect against a hotter and drier future, while suffering the most from harmful pollution and environmental hazards.

CAC works to reduce pollution at the source and ensure frontline communities are first in line to benefit from a 100% clean energy economy, transit, walking and biking infrastructure, infill development, and good-paying, middle class jobs that lift up working families.

We train and empower grassroots organizations, student groups, frontline and refugee communities in San Diego and Orange Counties to join and win the fight for climate justice and cultivate the big ideas, relationships, expertise and momentum from which communities create effective, legally-binding climate policies that protect and manage natural resources, abate threats of climate change, and improve social equity. We also empower local decision makers with the information, support, and motivation they need to stand up to powerful interests and shift investments into an equitable economic and environmental future.

We build and work in broad and diverse coalitions of people, organizations, businesses and governments for common goals: to reclaim and democratize social and political power, to integrate environmental and human needs, create social equity and environmental justice, adopt clean technologies and modes of transportation, and cultivate a deep and enduring social commitment to environmental sustainability.

No one individual, leader or organization can change deeply entrenched economic, political, technological, and energy paradigms—but when communities are given a chance to pursue big ideas and become energized and committed to change, leaders follow and paradigms shift.

CAC is giving root to those big, lofty ideas and creating those transformed communities. We are stopping climate change, one community at a time.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

100% Clean Energy: Why & How

Two-thirds of San Diego is powered by outdated, polluting fossil fuels. Climate 100% Clean EnergyAction Campaign is changing that in a big, 100% clean energy way.

The main path to achieve 100% of our energy from clean, renewable sources like solar requires turning our current energy monopoly system into a system of choice–Community Choice Energy.

Who is going 100%?

The City of San Diego is the largest U.S. city with a binding commitment to go 100% clean energy, and many more around the globe have done the same. Some have even already made the 100% switch!

Cities already at 100%:
Aspen, CO, Burlington, VT & Greensburg, KS
Georgetown, TX
Yakushima, Japan
Wolfhagen, Germany
Kisielice, Poland
Dobbiaco, Italy

Cities committed to going 100%:
San Diego, CA (100% by 2035)
Del Mar, CA (100% by 2035)
Solana Beach, CA (100% by 2035)
San Jose, CA (100% by 2022)
San Francisco, CA (100% by 2020)
Salt Lake City (100% by 2032)
Vancouver, BC (100% by 2050)
Copenhagen, Denmark (carbon neutral by 2025)
Bonaire (100% by 2015)
Munich, Germany (100% by 2025)
Isle of Wight, England (100% self-sufficient and renewable by 2020)
Frankfurt, Germany (Zero carbon emissions by 2050).

Population(s) Served

We’re working to achieve a world-class transportation system that provides better transit, walking and biking options, to reduce our carbon footprint and improve our health, quality of life, and ability to compete in a 21st century economy.

Our vision is for 50% of urban residents to commute on transit, walking and biking by 2035.
That means we need a serious boost to our investment in the infrastructure, convenience, safety, and affordability of transit, bike paths, and walking paths. We also need more compact, mixed-use development near transit lines that are affordable to all.

How San Diego’s urban residents commute today:
5% transit
4.2% walk
1.9% bike

How San Diego’s urban residents will commute in 2035 (if the City achieves its Climate Action Plan goals):
25% transit
7% walk
18% bike

How we rank against other regions (Hint: It’s not good):
San Diego County is excluded from nearly every list for biking, walking, and transit rider friendliness.

Zero cities in San Diego County are among the top 25 in the country for walking and bicycling levels, according to the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking, nor are we in Bicycling Magazine’s top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities.

As a result, our air and lungs are suffering. The American Lung Association gave San Diego County an ‘F’ for air pollution from mobile sources in 2016.

Why are our rates of transit use, biking, and walking so low, in a region with perfect weather?
-Under-investment: The City of San Diego ranks a lowly 39th among large cities for per capita spending on bicycling and pedestrian projects, according to the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking.
-Mismanagement: San Diego’s transit stations get failing grades for encouraging ridership, according to a report from Next10.
-Sprawl: Nationwide, urban sprawl costs the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion per year according to a study from the New Climate Economy. The San Diego region has an unfortunate history of sprawling development.

Benefits of Transit, Walking, and Biking
The U.S. Surgeon General launched a Call To Action to promote walking and walkable communities, because it’s essential to our health and building a strong community.

Quality of Life: People who walk and take transit to work are happier, healthier, and more socially engaged with their community.
Jobs: Improving our transit system means more jobs building infrastructure and maintaining the system and better access for folks to get to where they need to go, like work and school. Check out this report from the Transportation Equity Network: More Transit = More Jobs.
Safety: More and safer bike paths, sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings means fewer collisions with cars, which is better for everyone.
Health: Biking and walking (“active transportation”) improves our health. In NYC, for example, every $1,300 invested in building bike lanes provided benefites equal to one additional year of life at full health for residents citywide, according to one economic assessment.
How Transportation Decisions and Funding Happen in San Diego

Transportation dollars in San Diego County flow through our regional transportation agency, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), making it a powerful player affecting our ability to cut pollution from cars and trucks, create a world-class transit system, and improve our quality of life and economic competitiveness.

Our local cities and SANDAG must work together to allocate enough resources to offer real transportation options. Some cities are doing what’s necessary by proposing visionary and enforceable transit, walking, and biking goals in their Climate Action Plans, General Plans, and budgets.

SANDAG hasn’t been pulling its weight.

SANDAG has repeatedly underfunded and deprioritized public transit, bicycling, and walking—making it incredibly difficult for cities around the region to meet their climate goals and create the kind of transit systems they want and need.

SANDAG’s current 35-year regional transportation plan increases transit ridership by a mere 4% countywide, while keeping transit times double those of driving trips.

SANDAG’s plan will be a major hurdle for the City of San Diego in reaching its Climate Action Plan goals. The City’s CAP aims to empower half of residents in urban areas to commute by transit, walking, and bicycling by 2035. SANDAG’s plan—as revealed in our report using SANDAG’s own data—puts the City on a path to achieve only 15% of commutes using sustainable transportation options in the same area. Put another way, the City’s goals are over three-times more ambitious than SANDAG’s.

Delay is not an option. State law mandates cities must meet its first climate benchmark in 2020 and San Diego’s Climate Action Plan commits to doing that by getting 1 in every 5 people (21%) to commute using non-car transportation. That’s five percentage points more than SANDAG would get us to 15 years later!

We can get there. It’s the only option.

In partnership with our Quality of Life Coalition, we’re changing the conversation in the media and in the government hearing rooms, from how many cars can we put on the road to how can we move people more efficiently with more and better alternative options.

It will take heroic efforts and the tireless struggle of all of us to reach our climate and transportation goals, but it is what is needed to protect the health and quality of life of kids today. We will get there, because we never, ever give up.

Population(s) Served

Our cities are heating up and the abundance of asphalt and concrete only makes it worse. Trees help cool things down, clean the air, and make our neighborhoods more beautiful.

Our vision is for 35% of our urban areas to be covered in trees (of the native and drought-tolerant variety).

Benefits of increasing tree coverage:
Clean Air: Trees filtering the air and sequester carbon. Hardwood trees remove about 1.56 tons of CO2 per acre from the air in the process of photosynthesis.
Clean Water: Trees protect against erosion during storm events and filter storm water.
Cooling: Trees cool their surrounding areas and reduce the “Heat Island Effect”. This reduces the need for expensive, energy-intensive air conditioning and provides urban communities with respite from the heat.
Noise reduction: “Noise pollution” in urban areas can have serious health impacts. Trees help reduce those noise impacts. There is a 7db noise reduction (about 50%) per 100 feet of forest due to trees by reflecting and absorbing sound energy. By comparison, solid walls decrease sound by 15 db.

The USDA Forest Service also recognizes the many, quantifiable benefits of trees and created a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite called i-Tree, which helps communities strengthen their urban forest management and advocacy efforts by quantifying the structure of community trees and the environmental services that trees provide.

What’s Happening in the Region:
The City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan commits to increasing the urban tree canopy to 35% coverage by 2035– that’s up from somewhere between 4% and 7% now. San Diego’s Community Forest Advisory Board estimates there about 1 million trees in the City today.
To get started in achieving that 35% coverage goal, San Diego hired an urban forest manager in 2015 and is developing an urban forest management plan and region-wide tree canopy assessment. San Diego also has an Urban Forest Advisory Council.
In January 2017, the City of San Diego adopted a 5-Year Urban Forestry Management Plan, which will help the City meet its Climate Action Plan goals by increasing tree canopy and improving social equity, prioritize tree planting in undeserved communities.
San Diego is also using funds from a $750,000 grant received from the CalFire Urban and Community Forestry Grant program to fund an inventory of local trees, tree canopy, and the planting of an additional 500 trees in Southeastern San Diego, in accordance with the City’s Draft Climate Action Plan (CAP).

What’s Next:
There is still much more work and investment needed to cover our entire region in with the tree canopy levels needed to meaningfully bolster our climate resiliency. You can count on Climate Action Campaign to ensure that happens, working with local forestry and conservation organizations to ensure continued funding in the budgets of local cities and the county.

Population(s) Served

Our vision is to cut our region’s waste down to zero by 2040, using a three-pronged approach:

1. Decrease waste production– especially excess consumables and packaging like plastic bags and Styrofoam containers.
2. Divert trash from landfills and instead recycle and compost.
3. Capture emissions from landfills and wastewater treatment processes.

Why worry about waste? Waste creates tons of methane– a potent greenhouse gas– when it decays in landfills. Landfills and the waste in them can also leach toxins into the soil and water table. Waste ends up as debris in our oceans and our beaches, leading to even bigger garbage patches in the middle of our ocean!

Here are the facts about waste in San Diego and why we view it as central to our strategies to fight climate change:
5% of greenhouse gas emissions in the City of San Diego come from solid waste wastewater management.
4.15 million tons of waste is discarded by San Diego residents each year.
The largest contributor of this waste is from the commercial sector.
76% of San Diego’s waste is recyclable, but only about 67% of it is actually recycled.
$54M is the value of San Diego’s recyclables, yet City’s waste diversion and recycling rates well below optimal:
The City’s single family curbside recycling and yard trimmings collection programs divert only 23% of the waste generated by that sector.
Commercial and multi-family facilities divert only 26% of the waste they generate.
Worse, the City is setting a bad example with only a 27% waste diversion rate at the City’s own facilities.
By comparison, most mature curbside recycling programs achieve at least a 40% rate of diversion and commercial rates can often be significantly higher than that.
Organics make up 1/3 of landfilled materials in the City of San Diego.
Food waste makes up 15% (approx 200,000 tons) of materials discarded in San Diego. This shows both how far behind the City is, and how much opportunity there is for composting and other waste reduction and diversion practices.

What’s Happening in the Region:
While getting to Zero Waste is undoubtedly a challenge, the good news is that we’re already on our way in several cities around the region:

City Of San Diego
2016 – July 19: The City of San Diego became the 150th jurisdiction in California to adopt a ban on single-use plastic bags. The measure is effective September 2016.

The City is also working to achieve:
By 2020: 75% diversion of waste from landfills into recycling, compost and reuse to meet state law, which means an additional 332,000 tons per year must be diverted from landfill disposal.
By 2035: 90% diversion, as part of the City’s Climate Action Plan (December 2015).
By 2040: Zero Waste, detailed in City Of San Diego’s Zero Waste Plan (June 2015).
Considering a ban on single use bags. Read our Coalition Letter on San Diego’s Bag Ban Recirculated DEIR on 5-9-16.
Continuing to sequester methane gas produced by the Miramar landfill and use it to create electricity for the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

There is also momentum in other parts of the region, which CAC will continue to watchdog:
Solana Beach
First city in the county to adopt a ban on plastic grocery bags and has recently been positioning to extend that to a ban on polystyrene (Styrofoam).

Working to reduce waste and protect our waterways with consideration of a ban on polystyrene (Styrofoam) containers and cups, as well as plastic bags.

In August 2016, Oceanside adopted a ban on single-use plastic bags. CAC’s wrote a letter on 8/9/16 supporting Oceanside’s plastic bag ban, as well as to Oceanside on 10/21/15 supporting their single-use bag ban proposal and opposing the Gregory Canyon Landfill.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Clean Energy Hall of Fame 2021

California Energy Commission

Affiliations & memberships

California Clean Energy Hall of Fame 2021

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Climate Action Campaign (CAC) advances a zero carbon future by advancing a scalable, replicable model in San Diego and Orange Counties, total population 6 million. Policy work is driven by community will and cross-sector coalitions - we work with communities of concern and key stakeholders to craft equitable policies. CAC then builds the political will necessary to win, working with local governments to advance 100% Clean Energy; All-Electric Homes; Bikeable/Walkable Neighborhoods; World-Class Transit; and Resiliency.

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    CAC began using participatory budgeting in our grant applications to improve our commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion across our organization.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection



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Board of directors
as of 01/14/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Patti Larchet

Mary Yang

Donald Mosier

Cecilia Aguillon

Carol Kim

Lester Machado

Scott Borden

Sebastian Sarria

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/8/2019

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


No data