Becoming aware, taking action

In the summer of 2007, Greg Dalton took a Commonwealth Club trip to the Arctic traveling on a Russian icebreaker with a group of scientists and journalists. Walking on melting tundra, sailing through fields of ice and witnessing strange new animal migrations, Greg came face to face with the reality of climate change.

Returning in despair, Greg spent hours at his dining room table putting together a video of the trip, reliving the experience and processing what he had learned. Once he absorbed this new reality, he resolved to do something about it.

That autumn, working with The Commonwealth Club’s CEO, Gloria Duffy, Greg launched Climate One , a program exploring the array of interconnected topics surrounding climate, and a place for people concerned about these changes to gather and learn. We are proud that after 10 years we are still covering the most important issue of our time by convening people, connecting ideas, and inspiring new approaches.

Ten Years of Impact

From our start in 2007, Climate One’s unique contribution has been to provide a respectful space for inclusive, rational discussions about the environment at a systemic level. Bringing a broad, journalistic perspective to the conversation on climate change and its consequences, we’ve continued to host many significant and influential discussions.

Oct 2007: UNDP reaches out to Climate One

The United Nations Development Program approached Greg Dalton about coming to San Francisco to release its first report on the disproportionate effect climate change will have on poor people around the world.

The United Nations Development Program approached Greg Dalton about coming to San Francisco to release its first report on the disproportionate effect climate change will have on poor people around the world. The first Climate One program featured Google executive Larry Brilliant, CH2M Hill sustainability manager Andrea Gardner, U.N. official Ad Melkert and venture capitalist Nancy Pfund.

Oct 2008: Google Goes Big

One month before the presidential election, when the chant, “Drill, Baby, Drill,” is on repeat in the American political arena, expressing support for increased drilling for fossil fuels as a source of additional energy, Google chief executive...

One month before the presidential election, when the chant, “Drill, Baby, Drill,” is on repeat in the American political arena, expressing support for increased drilling for fossil fuels as a source of additional energy, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt unveils the Google Energy plan at Climate One. With the stated goal of stimulating debate, the $4.4 trillion proposal calls for a 48% reduction in U.S. carbon emissions by 2030.

Sept 2009: Climate One TV Premieres

Two years after Climate One’s launch, Nancy Dobbs, President and CEO of one of California’s PBS affiliates, KRCB, was in the audience. After the show, she suggests creating a TV program. Climate One still runs monthly on KRCB.

Two years after Climate One’s launch, Nancy Dobbs, President and CEO of one of California’s PBS affiliates, KRCB, was in the audience. After the show, she was so impressed with the program she suggests creating a TV show. Nine years later, Climate One continues to run monthly on KRCB.

Apr 2009: An Unlikely Summit

Two weeks before the U.S. House of Representatives votes to approve a national cap-and-trade program, Chevron CEO Dave O’Reilly and Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope meet for the first time at Climate One.

Two weeks before the U.S. House of Representatives votes to approve a national cap-and-trade program, Chevron CEO Dave O’Reilly and Sierra Club chief Carl Pope meet for the first time at Climate One. O’Reilly agrees that climate science is valid and climate change is real, while he and Pope affirm different approaches regarding the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Dec 2009: Climate One Goes To Copenhagen

Climate One goes to Copenhagen for the U.N. Climate Summit (COP15)

Climate One goes to Copenhagen for the U.N. Climate Summit, where the Copenhagen Accord was drafted by five countries, including the U.S. Although the remaining participating countries did not adopt the accord, it recognized the reality of climate change and set a goal to keep temperature increases below two degrees Celsius.

Sept 2010: Energy, Economy, and the Environment

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears at Climate One to talk about public diplomacy and the interconnections between energy, the economy and the environment.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears at Climate One to talk about public diplomacy and the interconnections between energy, the economy and the environment. While discussing U.S. oil dependence on Canada and Mexico, Clinton states that “Clean, renewable energy is in both our economic interests and the interests of our planet.”

Apr 2011: Shifting Sands

Alex Pourbaix of TransCanada and Sierra Club’s Carl Pope join a Climate One forum to discuss the environmental impacts of processing oil from Alberta’s oil sands, including transport through the Keystone XL pipeline.
Alex Pourbaix of TransCanada and Sierra Club’s Carl Pope join a Climate One forum to discuss the environmental impacts of processing oil from Alberta’s oil sands, including transport through the Keystone XL pipeline. While acknowledging the relative benefits of obtaining crude oil from a friendly neighbor, Mr. Pope insists, “The United States is going to be used as a transit zone and a refining zone. We’re going to take the environmental risks.”

Dec 2011: Stephen H. Schneider Award

In honor of Dr. Stephen H. Schneider, Climate One establishes an award for outstanding climate science communication.

In honor of Dr. Stephen H. Schneider, Climate One establishes an award for outstanding climate science communication. Dr. Schneider is widely considered a founding father of climate science. He was the first member of the Advisory Board and offered invaluable guidance to Greg Dalton regarding scientific matters. He passed away suddenly in 2010 as he was en route to Climate One. Schneider Award recipients would eventually include such luminaries as Dr. Michael Mann, Dr. Richard Alley, Dr. Naomi Oreskes and others.

Jul 2012: Students on Ice Scholarship

Climate One begins sponsoring one high school student each year for travel to the Arctic, honoring the place that inspired Greg Dalton’s understanding of the issues surrounding climate change.

Climate One begins sponsoring one Bay Area high school student each year to attend the Students on Ice program in the Arctic, honoring the place that inspired Greg Dalton’s understanding of the issues surrounding climate change. Educating and empowering younger generations is integral to Climate One’s efforts to create a more sustainable future. Dalton has derived significant motivation in his endeavor to change the conversation about climate change from his two children.

Nov 2012: A Heated Discussion

Environmental advocate Bill McKibben sits down with former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister at Climate One to talk about the future of fossil fuels and the companies that produce them.

Environmental advocate Bill McKibben sits down with former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister at Climate One to talk about the future of fossil fuels and the companies that produce them. Hofmeister begins the conversation by reminding us, “we have an existing machine that needs to be fed, meaning the 250 million cars on the road, the tens of millions of trucks and so forth … we can either feed the machine with imported oil or feed the machine with domestic oil.” McKibben, in return, declares climate change “the legacy issue of all legacy issues ... and it is going to be very difficult because of the incredible obstructive power of the fossil fuel industry.” Both men agree that the world needs better energy alternatives but differ sharply on climate science and the path toward an affordable renewable energy mix.

Oct 2013: “Best Guide for a Challenging Future”

San Francisco Bay Guardian editors vote Climate One as the winner of the 2013 award for “Best Guide for a Challenging Future.”

San Francisco Bay Guardian editors vote Climate One as the winner of the 2013 award for “Best Guide for a Challenging Future.” The award gives special recognition to organizations that brighten the Bay Area experience. For the awards announcement, SFBG editors wrote, the “Climate One series deserves a shout-out for bringing the most pressing environmental issues of our time to the fore.”

Read the full article

Jun 2014: The Answer, My Friend . . .

Texas Governor Rick Perry visits Climate One to discuss energy production and independence, citing Texas’s leadership.

Texas Governor Rick Perry visits Climate One to discuss energy production and independence, citing Texas’s leadership. “Today, the nation’s leading developer of wind energy is not one of those progressive states on the East Coast or the West Coast,” says Gov. Perry. “The number one wind energy-producing state in the nation is along the Gulf Coast. It’s Texas.” Solving the world’s energy problems, he suggests, requires innovation, competition and free-market capitalism.  

Apr 2015: Looking Abroad for Solutions

Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson visits Climate One and explicitly connects the dots between climate change and the economy.

Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson visits Climate One and explicitly connects the dots between climate change and the economy, calling for greater collaboration with China to share best practices. China, he says, has “a practical, pragmatic leadership that recognizes that they’ve got problems and is going to look everywhere and more to solve them.”

Oct 2015: Amazon Watch and OPEC

René Ortiz, the former oil minister of Ecuador and former OPEC secretary general, comes to Climate One for not only his first ride in an electric vehicle but also to sit down for the first time with the executive director of Amazon Watch, Leila...

René Ortiz, the former Ecuador oil minister and former OPEC secretary general, comes to Climate One for not only his first ride in an electric vehicle (courtesy of Climate One Founder Greg Dalton) but also to sit down for the first time with the executive director of Amazon Watch, Leila Salazar-Lopez. While it was a challenge to convince them to share the stage, it is also incredibly rewarding, as the tense meeting results in an informative conversation. Salazar-Lopez says, “We need our global leaders, our local leaders, we, all of us, need to push for an advance in renewable energy technologies and kick our addictions to fossil fuels.” Ortiz, however, maintains that because of the world’s addiction, “we need the oil industry.”

Dec 2015: Climate One goes to Paris

At the Paris Climate Summit, Climate One Founder Greg Dalton interviews global leaders in a marquee event supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

At the Paris Climate Summit, Climate One Founder Greg Dalton interviews global leaders in a marquee event supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. California Governor Jerry Brown and governors from Latin America and Africa laid out their plans for decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions. The Paris Climate Accord is ratified a few months later, and sub-national leaders continue to make some of the biggest contributions towards the goals set forth by the Accord.

July 2017: Al Gore and Climate One

Al Gore comes to Climate One to launch his new book and movie, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. “The climate denial is no more ferocious than the resistance to civil rights in the South,” he says. “And yet, it gave way.”

Oct 2017: Civil Rights Hero, Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley

Civil rights hero Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley comes to Climate One and aptly explains why environmental movements still lack diversity.

Civil rights hero Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley comes to Climate One and aptly explains why environmental movements still lack diversity, acknowledging that it has been a challenge for people to see the relationship between climate change and issues surrounding discrimination, segregation and exclusion. “People move from a psychological point of survival,” says Rev. Gerald Durley. It is hard to focus on climate change “when you’ve got police brutality; when you’ve got rent; when you’ve got poor education; when you’ve got unemployment; those issues that are very bread-and-butter issues.” It is not that people are not concerned about the environment, it is that “they’ve got other pressing issues.”

Now more than ever

On our tenth anniversary, Climate One is doubling down on our mission to make sure the conversation around climate change remains many-voiced, robust and at the forefront of our civic dialogue. We’re going beyond simply raising awareness to catalyzing action without villainizing individuals or groups. We’re surfacing the web of interrelated issues that impact the interconnected global economy and ecosystems. And we’re setting the stage for one-time adversaries to develop empathy and perhaps become partners who develop solutions that inspire us all.

The Commonwealth Club’s new headquarters provides a fresh and contemporary space for the most challenging, in-depth discussions. And a new generation of participants are provoking even more lively, inspiring discussions that foster educated hope.

We’re also expanding our reach through podcasts, video and social media platforms, bringing our forums and to an ever-growing community of concerned leaders and citizens.

Securing our future

Regardless of the challenges ahead, we’re in a much more informed, creative, and resolute position than we were ten years ago. We plan to be here for whatever it takes, however long it takes, and for those who are concerned about the future of our economy. Thanks for joining the conversation and for supporting the ideal of a respectful civic forum. Our work is just beginning.