Climate First! strives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean energy in the Mid-Atlantic region, by organizing grassroots efforts that encourage corporations and local governments to think climate first.
Climate First! became a corporation in the State of Maryland on November 16, 2012. The organization wasted no time in running its first direct action the next month at a PNC Bank branch in Washington, D.C., chastising the lender for its financial support of companies that engaged in mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining in nearby Appalachia. Climate First! continued to run actions against PNC Bank for a few years as part of a coalition organized by the Philadelphia-based Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT).
As Climate First! slowly grew stronger in its number of supporters and financial backing, the organization took on other causes, one being the nationwide drive to stop the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. The KXL pipeline would carry tar sands-derived oil from western Canada to U.S refineries on the Gulf coast. Climate First! created and trained a team that was ready on a moment's notice to commit civil disobedience at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. if the pipeline project ever reached the U.S. Presidents desk for his approval. Fittingly, Climate First! added TD Bank to its bank targets due to the U.S. lenders large investments in TransCanada, the Canadian company that was building the KXL pipeline.
Climate First! was awarded tax-exempt status by the IRS in August 2014. Then in December of that year, the organization held its first Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. where attendees heard Randy Hayes, founder of the famed Rainforest Action Network, speak about the ecological cycles essential to life on earth, among other things. In March 2015, Climate First! celebrated its first campaign victory when PNC Bank announced that it would divest from companies that practiced MTR coal mining.
See Climate First! and others in action at an event in front of the U.S. Capitol in 2016.
In late 2015, Climate First! attended formal events, including this march, surrounding the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.