Summary of “San Diego’s Climate Action Leadership: Leading the Way for Our Nation!”

Climate Education Partners (CEP) recently hosted an event, San Diego’s Climate Action Leadership: Leading the Way for Our Nation!, to highlight the ways in which our region is undertaking some of the most ambitious and innovative efforts nationwide to both reduce polluting emissions and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The event was meant to mark the end of CEP, a National Science Foundation-funded collaboration between the University of San Diego and Cal State San Marcos, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, The San Diego Foundation, Steve Alexander Group, and UC San Francisco. The collaboration was aimed at understanding the local impacts of climate change and how San Diegans – and the leaders that represent them – perceive these impacts and how to address them.

Climate Education Partners used their research findings from local climate scientists, social psychologists, interviews with local “key influential” leaders, and public opinion surveys, to develop educational materials, communications strategies, and options for advancing local solutions to climate change so that the region’s leaders in government, business and the community could make informed decisions about the future.

The event featured elected and other officials from federal, state and local governments that have been engaged in policy and planing related to climate change, including:

April Boling, Board Chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos, Chairman of the Board at Port of San Diego
Assemblymember Todd Gloria, State of California’s 78th Assembly District
Kim Kawada, Chief Deputy Executive Director at SANDAG
Congressman Scott Peters, California’s 52nd District
Councilmember Cori Schumacher, Carlsbad City Council

“Collaborative, innovative, dynamic, prepared, concerned and eager to lead” were the answers given by the panelists when asked how they were feeling about the current state of climate action in the region. The program also featured an overview of Climate Education Partners’ new community toolbox, insights from polling data findings, and a quick share on what the CEP members are doing next.

Dr. Emily Young, Executive Director at the University of San Diego’s Nonprofit Institute, noted that CEP has laid the foundation for the Institute to launch a new Environment Leadership Hub, to build the next generation of strong leaders and organizations working across sectors, to protect our environment as part of sustaining our economic prosperity and quality of life.


This article was contributed to the STAY COOL blog by the University of San Diego’s Nonprofit Institute.

Reducing Emissions with Electric Buses

Reducing transportation-related GHG emissions may be our hardest problem in holding global warming to 2°C.  Worldwide, at any given time, there are millions of cars, buses, trucks, trains and planes releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. A transition to electric vehicles is badly needed.

One avenue of hope is the growing interest by cities in electric buses (EBs).  In terms of GHG emissions, 1 bus equals 20 cars.  And most major cities have several thousand buses, so the impact is huge.  Recently San Diego received a $41M grant from California’s cap and trade program and the SB 1 gas tax increase.  Much of that will go to buy 11 electric buses for the MTS fleet.

Other U.S. cities are also getting on the electric bus wagon – New York City is testing 11 EBs and plans for an all-electric fleet by 2040.  Los Angeles will spend more than $36M this year on EBs as part of its plan to have a zero-emission fleet by 2030.

Internationally, London has nearly 200 electric buses, and Paris has pledged for all EBs by 2025.  But the international city with the most EBs is Shenzhen, China. With 12.5 million

A worker walks past BYD Co. electric buses parked at a public transportation hub in Shenzhen, China, on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. China, the worlds biggest auto market, may have all buses powered by batteries by 2020 and all other vehicles will follow suit by 2030, BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu predicts. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

people and horrid air pollution, Shenzhen last year went to an all-EB system – 16,359 EBs total!  Overall, China already has 385,00 EBs and is adding 9,500 more every 5 weeks.

So why are cities still buying fossil fuel-burning buses?  Simple answer – the cost.  An electric bus currently costs much, much more than a diesel or natural gas bus.  And then there is infrastructure, namely charging stations.  But purchase costs are coming down as production scale ramps up, and fuel/maintenance costs are significantly lower for EBs.

How can STAY COOL help support a transition to EBs in San Diego?  STAY COOL is working with SANDAG transportation planners to provide grass-roots support for new ideas such as more EBs.  We also will be encouraging federal support for EB funding through our members of Congress.  Every FF-burning bus replaced with an EB is a step toward zero emissions.

This post was contributed by STAY COOL Advisor David Engel.

Our many approaches to Climate Action

By Dennis Griffin

As a group STAY COOL for Grandkids has and continues to address all actions to combat Climate Change.   The mission of STAY COOL is to speak for those too young to have a voice regarding climate policies: our children and grandchildren.  STAY COOL harnesses the power of elders through education and advocacy for action on climate change issues in the San Diego region.

STAY COOL was recently referred to as “elderly do-gooders” a moniker that we now embrace.

As a STAY COOL advisor, I recently launched a new Facebook page titled “DIY (Do it yourself) Climate Action.”  The focus of this site is on personal actions that individuals can take to combat climate change.  There are many sites that address climate change and this site’s focus is on “walking the talk.”

We can take tangible steps toward combating climate change through personal actions:

  • Install solar on our roofs
  • Drive an electric car
  • Take low carbon vacations
  • Change our diet by replacing animal protein with plant protein
  • Divest ourselves from fossil fuels by changing our investments to show our environmental values
  • Share our concerns about the future with our children and grandchildren (other demands on their time and attention may be keeping them uninformed).

I encourage you to like and follow DIY Climate Action Facebook Page just like you do with SC4G’s Facebook Page.

I have taken these actions myself and am willing to assist STAY COOL members who wish to take these personal actions toward combating climate change.  I can be reached at or 858-335-3340.

STAY COOL Promotes Ambitious GHG Reduction Targets for San Diego Region

Members of the STAY COOL Advisory Council recently traveled to Riverside to testify at the final public hearing of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), where the Board decided on 2035 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction targets for each of the 18 metropolitan areas in California.

STAY COOL was one of several organizations that submitted letters to CARB advocating for higher GHG reduction targets for the San Diego region than either SANDAG or the CARB staff were recommending.  STAY COOL also offered specific recommendations for ways that our region could achieve greater reductions.  Click here to download a PDF of the letter we submitted: STAY COOL – Letter ref CARB SB 375 Targets – 3-19-18.

Bob Leiter and Linda Pratt testified at the hearing along with nearly 30 other speakers from the San Diego region who supported higher targets.  While the CARB Board accepted the recommendations of their staff regarding the numerical targets, STAY COOL and other organizations were successful in making them aware of the elevated level of support in the San Diego region for aggressive climate plans and actions at the state, regional and local levels.  We will keep our members informed on future opportunities to weigh in on these important issues.

A Wake Up Call

In response to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the landmark Paris Climate Accords, STAY COOL Advisory Council Chair Bob Leiter submitted a shorten version of the following opinion editorial on June 4, 2017 to the San Diego Union-Tribune:

When President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would walk away from the Paris climate accord, concern for my grandchildren first came to my mind. Climate change is the biggest global threat to future generations.

We know from solid scientific data that CO2 trapped in the atmosphere leads to global warming, and 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that this warming over the past century is due to human activities.

These emissions remain for decades, ultimately passing the consequences on to our children, and our grandkids. Because of these man-made emissions, our planet is on a path toward more warming, rising sea levels, poor public health, extreme heat waves and droughts in the decades ahead. Here in San Diego, we have already experienced the devastation of drought and impact of wildfires.

All the indicators are going in the wrong direction. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s latest update to its greenhouse gas index, combined greenhouses gases in the atmosphere increased by 2.5 percent in 2016. Last year was the hottest year on record.

President Trump’s misinformed statements on Thursday, and the well-reasoned responses to them from leaders at the international, state and local level, point out the importance of education and outreach on this critical topic.  Our organization, STAY COOL for Grandkids, is one of many here in the San Diego region that is working hard to educate our youth and our elders on the threat of global warming and the practical solutions that are available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without harming the economy or placing an undue burden on disadvantaged communities.

 The President’s decision was a wake-up call that none of us should ignore.

In addition, STAY COOL Advisor Laura Schumacher got this letter published in the June 6, 2017 issue of the Union Tribune:

Regarding “Pope, Trump discuss climate change” (May 25), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the administration is trying to balance addressing climate change against economic interests for Americans.

We don’t need to choose between the economy and climate change, if the administration would only look at the carbon fee and dividend solution proposed by Citizens Climate Lobby.

Studies show a revenue-neutral carbon tax, with 100 percent of the net revenue returned directly to households, will reduce gas emissions 52 percent below 1990 levels within 20 years while growing the economy and saving lives. This is the kind of market-based solution even Republicans can support.

Laura Schumacher
San Diego

STAY COOL for Grandkids Lends Its Support to Measure A

STAY COOL for Grandkids has announced its support for Measure A, the proposed half cent sales tax that will fund major investments in public transportation, open space and other quality of life improvements in the San Diego region. We are happy to join with several other organizations in lending our support to this important initiative, which is on the November 8, 2016 ballot.

Members of the STAY COOL Advisory Board have carefully reviewed the proposed measure, and our organization recently co-sponsored a public forum at which proponents and opponents of the measure presented their views. We have concluded that the proposed measure will provide significant opportunities for the San Diego region to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as follows:
• $7.5 billion to fund public transportation
• $2 billion for habitat preservation
• $540 million for bicycle and pedestrian improvements
• Commitment to build all priority transit projects within 15 years, including the new Purple Line trolley.
• $4.3 billion to cities for local infrastructure as well as climate adaptation
• $1.9 billion for HOV and managed lanes to encourage carpooling and allow buses to bypass congestion
• Enable SANDAG to exceed SB 375 greenhouse gas reduction targets for both 2020 and 2035

We recognize that there is still a divergence of opinion on the merits of Measure A. For example, the San Diego Union-Tribune recently published an editorial opposing Measure A because they believe that self-driving cars will reduce the need for new public transportation investments. At the same time, other well-respected environmental organizations have criticized the measure because they believe it does not provide adequate funding for public transit projects and other investments that will reduce GHG emissions.

The STAY COOL Advisory Board has carefully considered these arguments, but we are convinced Measure A will provide significant funding for projects needed now to reduce our dependence on automobiles and promote compact urban development in areas well served by public transit.

At the same time, it is critically important for SANDAG to continue the dialogue with local environmental groups along with other stakeholder groups as it begins the next update of its Regional Plan. STAY COOL has strongly supported the City of San Diego’s pioneering Climate Action Plan, and we have already begun to provide input to the County of San Diego on its forthcoming Climate Action Plan. We would like to work with SANDAG to make sure its future plans and investment strategies are just as ambitious as those of its local governments with regard to reducing GHG emissions, while at the same time addressing other important environmental, economic and social goals for the region.

The San Diego region is widely considered to be a model for sustainability planning. It is critical for us all to focus on how our plans and actions can lead to reduced GHG emissions and a better quality of life for current and future generations of San Diegans.

December 2014 Meeting Summary

Thank you to the 20 attendees who joined us for our December 2014 STAY COOL member meeting in Del Mar. At this meeting we first heard from Nancy Bragado on the City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan (CAP).

For background, the City of San Diego’s current CAP has been in development since 2011, managed by four different city mayors. Mayor Faulconer released the current draft in September 2014. It is currently out for environmental review and will come before the entire city council for final approval in summer or fall 2015. The city’s team has done a fine job with a comprehensive public outreach plan that included: more than 30 public presentations since 2011, an Environmental & Economic Sustainability Task Force independent advisory body formed solely for the CAP, and extensive outreach to business and environmental organizations.

The main objective of the plan (in addition to meeting state-mandated emissions reductions goals), is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) while strengthening the economy and improving San Diego’s quality of life. The CAP supports the city’s 2008 general plan.

In 2010 new baseline emissions inventory was conducted. Transportation is the largestpiechartBragado source of GHG, with electricity and natural gas combined nearly making up the other half (see pie chart at right).

The five strategies for reducing emissions outlined in the San Diego Climate Action Plan are:

  • Energy and water efficient buildings
    • Increase energy efficiency and reduce water usage
    • Create a mix of regulatory mandates and incentives to improve building performance
    • Increase renewable energy at municipal facilities
  • Clean & Renewable Energy
    • Facilitate installation of renewable energy locally
    • Create jobs in renewable energy sector
  • Bicycling, walking, transit and land use
    • Implement smart growth and promote alternative modes of travel
    • Reduce vehicle miles traveled, improve mobility and reduce fuel consumption
  • Zero waste
    • Achieve a 75% waste diversion rate to landfills by 2020
    • Reach 90% diversion rate by 2035
  • Climate Resiliency (adaptation)
    • Increase the City’s urban tree canopy coverage
    • Calls for a stand-alone Adaptation Plan (the city will work on this at a future date)

Next steps include continued Environmental Committee work, preparing the final environmental document, and reviewing and incorporating public comments. There is still time to submit your input: Later next year, the team will finalize the plan and prepare the CEQA documentation for City Council consideration.

In the end, San Diegans will have to choose to use transit and alternative forms of transportation in order for emissions reductions goals to be achieved. That likely won’t happen without broad support and participation. This is where STAY COOL can help – by showing public support for these ambitious goals.

Gail Welch, Senior Manager of Sustainability from Qualcomm shared how a company can go green while yielding financial benefits. She shared a video and presentation on Qualcomm’s sustainability practices. Qualcomm has been successful at Qualcomm_QWestRoofPVincreasing energy efficiency and reducing the company’s carbon footprint while cutting costs. Specifically, the company has implemented more than 500 projects to reduce CO2 emissions throughout their 11,000,000 square feet of facilities. Qualcomm believes sustainability is a core business value, but efforts must also help the bottom line. Three electrical co-generation facilities produce about 90 percent of their electricity requirements, saving the company $4 million in energy expenses each year.

If you would like to view the ten minute corporate video Gail presented on December 9, please email Program Manager Sarah Benson with your request to receive a digital copy.

Sarah shared recent member activities, including a list of 2014 accomplishments. Click here to download what we have achieved in the past year: 2014 Accomplishments (a future blog post will review these accomplishments). We look forward to another year of membership growth, educational events and additional ways for our members to become “grandparent advocates.” Stay tuned!

Grandparents Must Create Change

By Marty Eberhardt

As a parent, I was stunned by the sudden rush of love and protectiveness that came upon me as soon as I saw my first child.

Then, thirty years later, I felt it again, when I met my new grandson.Marty and her grandson

These are universal human emotions. Grandparents everywhere want a good life for their offspring. We have a crucial advantage over our busy sons and daughters; we often have more time and resources to work for a better world.

And San Diego needs a lot of informed, active people to avert bequeathing a truly disastrous world to the next generations.

In San Diego, the wildfire season has been declared year-round. Bark beetles are decimating the forests we love, and making them more vulnerable to fire. We are in an historic drought, and stored water supplies are sustaining us…but they must be replenished soon, or we will have much more serious problems in the years to come. The snowpack which we rely upon for water is dismal.

This is a small taste of the future our grandchildren will see if we continue to live as we have been living. There is an international consensus that we must avoid 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming over pre-industrial levels if our offspring are to live in a world we would want for them. The latest computer models clearly show us what will happen here if we don’t limit greenhouse gas emissions soon…loss of our beaches, loss of our forests, loss of adequate water supplies, loss of health of humans and of the land.

I think that it is our duty as citizens AND our responsibility as parents and grandparents to step up to the plate. I joined STAY COOL to have a way to do that, beyond my own personal lifestyle changes. I wanted to work with other people, and other grandparents, to influence lawmakers to take steps to reduce carbon emissions, to support solar energy in public and private buildings, to increase public transportation, to conserve water and support the reuse of drinking water, to support Smart Growth and to restrict sprawl into the fire-prone wildland-urban interface.

If our politicians understand that global warming is NOT a back-burner issue for many, many voters, but an issue that we know directly affects the lives of our families…then, I believe that we can have an effect.

For those who say, “ It’s all just too overwhelming. Can we really make a difference?” I say, “Can we afford not to try? And can we look our grandchildren in the eye if we don’t?”

Marty Eberhardt
Founding Member, STAY COOL
Former Director, The Water Conservation Garden and Tucson Botanical Gardens

How to Become a Grandparent Advocate

More voices need to be heard in the public sphere to help motivate our elected officials and governmental agencies to take action against global warming. Grandparents and seniors have the time and the ear of our civic leaders to sound the alarm. When more citizens show public support for climate change action and sustainable policies, our elected representatives will start to act.

How can you become an agent of change, or what we like to call a “grandparent advocate”? There are some easy ways to make your voice heard. One is to write a letter to your congressional representative. (Click here to learn who represents you.)

Or, send a letter to the media – many climate change skeptics submit opinion letters to U-T San Diego and they publish an unbalanced view of our region’s opinion on the topic.  You can submit a letter to the U-T San Diego editor either in response to an article/editorial or just because. Keep in mind the U-T requests that your letter be 125 words or less, although they sometimes publish slightly longer letters.

how to write a letter to the editor on climate change

how to write a letter to the editor on climate change

Here are general tips when writing letters to elected officials or the media:

  • Identify yourself as a credible messenger: provide a brief background and share that you are concerned about the likely risks global warming poses for our children and grandkids. Speak to global warming from your personal perspective.
  • Stick to a few key points and repeat them. Get to the point immediately, and make it a strong point! Boil down your message into one or two concise, compelling sentences.
  • Use easy-to-understand language and avoid jargon.
  • Make clear why the issue matters and why it is a local issue.
  • Emphasize what is known and irrefutable, and frame the information in a way that speaks to your audience.
  • Tap into shared community values, such as security, safety, responsibility, health, prosperity, etc.
  • Emphasize commonsense, practical solutions.
  • Focus on the economic benefits: job creation, dollars saved, costs avoided, etc.

(To read more resources and key message points, click here to view meeting notes from our March 6, 2014 STAY COOL meeting.)

Finally, talk with your friends and family about global warming issues that will impact future generations. (Click here to view meeting notes from our March 6, 2014 STAY COOL meeting and look at the bottom of the page for an easy-to-remember mnemonic.) Share your years of experience with a member of the next generation to inform them how the causes and consequences of global warming will affect the future.

Want to do more? STAY COOL needs to establish a critical mass of members to help advance our climate communications goals. Here’s how you can help us grow our membership:



Planning for climate change with high climate variability – May 14 Meeting Recap

Thank you to the 18 members and guests who attended our May 14 meeting featuring Dr. Dan Cayan, director of the Climate Research Division at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO).

Dr. Cayan has been with SIO since 1972 and is one of the Southwest’s leading experts on climate variability and impacts of climate change on water resources.  He presented to STAY COOL members a synopsis of recent research findings regarding climate change effects in California.

To view Dr. Cayan’s presentation slides titled “Planning for climate change on top of already high climate variability,” click here: CayanSlides_StayCoolSanDiego_05142014

Below are highlights of Dr. Cayan’s presentation:

  • California’s Mediterranean and coast-mountain setting is primed for high vulnerability to climate change impacts.
  • California is remarkable in having only about 120 days a year to accumulate two-thirds of annual precipitation. California’s year-to-year amount of precipitation. Is most volatile in U.S.
  • California climate is highly variable. Climate change will exacerbate existing climate stresses and cause new ones. California’s warmest winter on record was this past winter (2013-2014).
  • From year-to-year we can go to less than a third of average rain fall to more than 3 times the average rain fall.
  • California and the western U.S. have warmed over the last several decades, leading to changes in hydrologic and associated measures.
  • Virtually all GHG emission types have been increasing (methane, CO2, etc.). CO2 emissions stay in atmosphere for over 100 years.  CH4 has shorter life in atmosphere but is potent GHG.  Our climate has clearly warmed beyond what can be expected from normal variability, as shown by computer modeling.
  • Summer warms more than winter, in part because the land surface is drying out in summer.  Instead of some of heat energy going into evaporation (of land moisture) the energy totally goes into warming the atmosphere.
  • Warming drives loss of spring snowpack in coastal and Sierra mountain ranges– putting our local water supply at risk.
  • Sea levels are rising as well; mid-range estimates predict 3 feet sea level rise from 2000 to 2100.
  • Although there are large uncertainties, we can expect substantial changes in many systems. If climate change follows high end trajectory, changes will be enormous.

California needs to plan and adapt:

  • Monitoring of physical, biological and human systems is needed to understand processes, inform models and detect changes.
  • Continued investigation of regional changes from historical observations and from evolving global and regional models is needed.
  • Impacts cover range of sectors and systems—interdisciplinary approach is needed.
  • Rapid changes and science findings requires ongoing communication with decision makers.

How can you make a difference and help the effort in the San Diego region?

As Dan suggested, our region must plan and adapt to the coming climate changes. Our regional planning agency, SANDAG, is charged with long-term planning to ensure we reduce our emissions and develop policies that will allow us to adapt.

SANDAG is currently combining and updating the region’s two big picture planning documents into one comprehensive plan called “San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan.” The Regional Plan will provide a framework for our region’s housing, transportation, a vibrant economy, community health, social equity, borders, and environmental protection.

In an effort to bring greater focus to the Regional Plan, SANDAG staff prepared a series of white papers that inform the development of the plan. The SANDAG Draft White Paper on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation is available for public review from until May 19, 2014.

Share your public comments with us at and we will submit them. Or, submit your comments directly to SANDAG. All public comments must be sent to no later than May 19, 2014.

At the meeting we welcomed 4 new Advisory Board members:  Bob Leiter, Marty Eberhardt, Brad Zlotnick and Sue Randerson.  We also noted the imminent arrival of SC4G’s first summer intern, Ana Reyes, who will start in June.  Finally, members were directed to check out the STAY COOL Facebook page for the climate change videos made by 6th grade students at Chula Vista High Tech Middle School.

Meeting adjourned at 7:40 PM.