- Green advocacy group founded by Al Gore
- CEO Cathy Zoi was appointed by President Obama to oversee $16 billion in green funding
- In 2011, merged with the Climate Project to form the Climate Reality Project
In 2006, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore partnered with Cathy Zoi, Chief of Staff on Environmental Policy during the Clinton Administration, to create the Alliance for Climate Protection (ACP) and its affiliate, the Climate Protection Action Fund. While Gore became ACP’s board chairman, Zoi served as CEO.
ACP described itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to educating the global community about the urgency of implementing comprehensive solutions to the climate crisis.” With over 5 million members, ACP became one of the most powerful green advocacy groups in the United States.
ACP’s board of directors included former congressman Sherwood Boehlert (D-NY); Wangari Muta Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and a recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize; Theodore Roosevelt IV, chairman of the Pew Center for Global Climate Change and vice chair of the Wilderness Society; Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation; Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning professor of economics at Columbia University; Kevin Wall, founder of Control Room and Live Earth; and Orin Kramer, chairman of the New Jersey State Investment Council.
ACP partnered with such organizations as Green For All (founded by Van Jones); the Earth Day Network; the U.S. Climate Action Network; the National Wildlife Federation; the Paul Gorman-founded National Religious Partnership for the Environment; the National Audubon Society (formerly headed by Obama appointee Carol Browner); the Evangelical Environmental Network; the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative; the Energy Action Coalition; the Blue Green Alliance; 25×25; and 350.org.
In 2006, ACP launched its first program, the Climate Project (CP), whose mission was “to educate the public about the harmful effects of climate change and to work toward solutions at a grassroots level worldwide.” Headquartered in Nashville, Tennesse, CP opened additional chapters in Australia, Canada, India, Spain, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and Mexico. By 2010, the organization had shown its informational video to some 7.3 million people at 70,000 separate presentations.
In 2008, ACP initiated its Repower America campaign to rally Americans around a “clean energy plan and a revitalized national energy infrastructure.” Gore’s plan entailed a ten-year, 100% clean-energy goal, and supported President Barack Obama’s plans for the creation of a new green economy. On December 18, sitting alongside Gore and Vice President Joe Biden, Obama declared solidarity with Gore’s environmental efforts, stating that “as we’ve started to provide a framework for an economic recovery plan, we have the opportunity now to create jobs all across this country, in all 50 states, to repower America, to redesign how we use energy.”
Also in 2008, ACP launched a three-year, $300 million “We” campaign, a mass-media effort to convince the American public to support a national carbon-emissions cap and a new global pact on climate change. This initiative made use of online organizing as well as television advertisements on such programs as American Idol and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Al Gore explained his rationale for the new campaign:
“This climate crisis is so interwoven with habits and patterns that are so entrenched, the elected officials in both parties are going to be timid about enacting the bold changes that are needed until there is a change in the public’s sense of urgency in addressing this crisis. I’ve tried everything else I know to try. The way to solve this crisis is to change the way the public thinks about it.”
That same year, ACP collaborated with the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the League of Conservation Voters to launch the Reality Coalition, whose goal was to show the environmental harm caused by coal, and to expose the coal industry’s “misleading” campaigns.
On March 27, 2009, President Obama announced his selection of ACP chief executive officer Cathy Zoi as his nominee for Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (at the Department of Energy). On June 19, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed Zoi for this post, with Maggie L. Fox replacing Zoi as ACP’s new CEO. In her new role, Zoi managed the Energy Department’s $2.3 billion applied science, research, development and deployment portfolio, and she oversaw $16.8 billion in funding that had been made available under Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (more commonly known as the 2009 Stimulus Package).
In January 2010, John Stossel of Fox Business reported that Zoi’s husband, Robin Roy, was the policy director of Serious Materials, a company that had benefitted from a special tax credit provided by the Obama administration’s Stimulus Package. By April 2010, a number of other media outlets reported that Zoi and her husband had a significant financial stake not only in Serious Materials, but also in Landis+Gyr, both of which stood to benefit from government spending.
On July 12, 2011, ACP and the Climate Project merged to form a new entity: the Climate Reality Project.