The Citizens’ Climate Story

Founder’s Story

“I used to think that the important people were taking care of the important problems. I don’t think that anymore.” — Marshall Saunders

Founder Marshall Saunders on the steps of the U.S. Capitol

Founder Marshall Saunders on the steps of the U.S. Capitol

My name is Marshall Saunders, and I live in Coronado, CA. My professional career was real estate brokerage specializing in shopping center development and leasing.

When I became alarmed about the changing climate in 2006, I began giving talks about global warming to service clubs, high schools, universities, and whoever else would listen. However, at the end of each talk, I felt that the solutions I offered were not a match for the problem.

I realized that anything my listeners intended to do as individuals was totally swamped by public policy, by what the government did or didn’t do.

While I suggested ways for people to reduce their use of carbon, Congress extended a law that gave $18 billion in subsidies to oil and coal companies.

It seemed to me that Congress was doing things exactly backwards. Why? Because it’s dominated by special interests, in this case, the fossil fuel industry. In my heart I knew something else was at play: Ordinary people were not asking their members of Congress to take action on climate change, not in an organized and effective way. Furthermore, they didn’t know what to do or how to do it, nor did they have self-confidence and support they needed. I founded Citizens’ Climate Education to change all that by empowering individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power by gaining the necessary tools to engage in effective grassroots advocacy.

And how did I know anything about that? I’ve been a volunteer with RESULTS for 17 years. RESULTS creates the political will for the end of hunger and poverty. I saw that people who are concerned about the climate needed that same training in order to build political will for effective climate solutions. I couldn’t find a place where people could go to learn it, so on October 6th, 2007, I started sister organizations Citizens’ Climate Education and Citizens’ Climate Lobby. CCE is a registered 501(c)(3) organization that provides key trainings, tools, and other educational resources to help volunteers become effective advocates for climate solutions. CCL is a registered 501(c)(4) organization that supports volunteer-led and other direct lobbying efforts on specific climate legislation. Together, CCE and CCL complement each other to build public demand and political will for impactful climate solutions. Citizens’ Climate now has hundreds of chapters throughout the United States and Canada as well as Australia, Europe, Central America, Asia and Africa.