Reflections on the 2019 San Diego Climate Summit

Following the release of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment last year, the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation (CCCIA) and California-Nevada Climate Applications Program (CNAP) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) along with the Climate Science Alliance (CSA) begin planning the 2019 San Diego Climate Summit to dig deeper into the science. The Summit took place on March 26th and brought together nearly 250 climate researchers and local leaders to explore the report’s findings for our region. Attendees represented a diverse composition from across the state, including community organizations, businesses, researchers, and local, state, tribal, and federal government officials.

SIO Director Dr. Margaret Leinen kicked off the event, emphasizing the importance of the San Diego Region Report within the Fourth Assessment for “unpacking…how changes will affect us in San Diego differently to Eureka or Bakersfield.” Coordinating lead authors Dr. Dan Cayan and Dr. Julie Kalansky (CNAP/SIO) presented a summary of the Region Report’s findings, including regional climate projections and impacts and adaptation strategies.

Community perspectives/testimonials throughout the day highlighted different perspectives from San Diego, including climate change impacts on local ecosystems, food systems, border communities, military concerns, and coastal state parks.  Louise Bedsworth, Director of the California Strategic Growth Council, provided a state-level perspective on integrated climate action and participants learned how local and state entities are integrating climate science into adaptation strategies for infrastructure and utilities, and public health and vulnerable communities. Rounding out the day, two afternoon workshops focused on Sea Level Rise and Coastal Vulnerability and Climate Messaging for the Community.

At the event, Climate Science Alliance honored six recipients of the 2019 Climate Adaptation Leadership Award: Dr. Dan Cayan (CNAP), Dr. Shasta Gaughen (Pala Band of Mission Indians), Morgan Justice-Black (San Diego Gas & Electric), Dr. Julie Kalansky (CNAP), Rob Roy (La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians), and Steve Walters (Mission Bay High School).  Recipients were selected for their collaborative work and inventive approaches to advancing climate resilient solutions in our community and beyond.

Researchers and community groups networked and showcased their work on local climate science, action, art, and education initiatives with interactive demonstrations while music was provided by Leah Keane, CSA Affiliated Artist. When Dr. Amber Pairis (CSA/CCCIA) asked audience members to reveal one-word takeaways from the Summit, “urgency,” “integrated,” and “community” were among the responses, highlighting the importance of the Summit in bringing together these diverse groups to build a strong coalition for climate change action and adaptation in San Diego County.

Guest post by Margaret Lindeman

View the full photo album here.