The San Diego Foundation's Climate Initiative Program

Created: 4/19/2010 - Updated: 3/02/2020


The San Diego Foundation Climate Initiative campaign supports regional efforts to increase community awareness and education about climate change and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2006, the campaign has provided leadership, resources, and support for multiple projects throughout San Diego, including projects related to greenhouse gas emissions, climate change impacts projections, case studies, and the sciences.


The San Diego Foundation manages and distributes funds to help improve and address community problems within San Diego. The goal of the Environment Working Group is to preserve and protect San Diego’s natural resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations to come. The Environment Working Group has three major environmental initiatives: land and watershed conservation, clean environment and healthy communities, and climate change. The San Diego Foundation Climate Initiative campaign supports regional efforts to increase community awareness and education about climate change and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The San Diego Foundation is working with government, nonprofits, businesses, and consumers to increase public awareness and support for local climate action; support research to build a scientific foundation for public policy; partner with local governments to address climate change impacts; support climate action planning by local cities and public agencies; support nonprofit organizations that will address climate change locally; and engage donors to contribute to climate action solutions.


Since the Climate Initiative’s inception in 2006, the San Diego Foundation has supported multiple climate change-related projects. Some of the funded research projects include:

  • University of San Diego/Energy Policy Initiatives Center School of Law - Determining Solution Pathways to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the San Diego Region
  • San Diego Natural History Museum - Using Plant Data to Assess Climate Change in San Diego
  • San Diego State University - Global Climate Change: Sea-Level Rise, Critical Coastal Habitats & Coastal Water Quality in the San Diego Region
  • University of California San Diego, Scripps Institute of Oceanography - Understanding San Diego's Current and Future Precipitation Patterns Using Real-time Water Vapor Observations
  • University of San Diego/Energy Policy Initiatives Center School of Law - Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy Assessment Project
  • ICLEI USA - Local Governments for Sustainability - San Diego Regional Climate Protection Network
  • San Diego State University Research Foundation / Department of Biology - Using Landscape Genetics to Understand the Impacts of Habitat Fragmentation on Animal Communities in San Diego County in the Context of Climate Change
  • San Diego State University Foundation/Graduate School of Public Health - Coastlines At-Risk Assessment and a Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy for the San Diego Region

Outcomes and Conclusions

Many climate change-related projects supported through the San Diego Foundation are in progress. However, some notable project outcomes include:

  1. The San Diego County Greenhouse Gas Inventory (September, 2008): This project endeavored to inventory all greenhouse gas emissions from San Diego County over the 1990-2006 time period. Using this data, the report estimates greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, provided trends remain the same. The study also calculated the theoretical emissions reductions necessary in each emission category to reduce San Diego’s emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Emissions were calculated using the same methodology developed by the California Air Resources Board.
  2. 2050 Study (2008): This project utilized tools pioneered by King County, Washington, to explore what the San Diego region will be like in the year 2050 if the current climate trends and greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. The report assesses climate change impacts on eight aspects: climate change, population growth, land use, public health, energy, water, biodiversity, and wildfires. Projected impacts are based upon three scaled down climate models and two emissions scenarios from the IPCC. The report details projected impacts due to increases in temperature, sea level rise, water shortage, increases in wildfires, decreased public health, loss of native species, and increased energy needs. Each chapter highlights the science behind the issue, models projections, and suggests solutions or ways to mitigate the problem.
  3. San Diego Climate Change Progress: Results from a city benchmarking study (2008): This study compared the progress on planning for climate change between nine local cities in San Diego that have declared a commitment to combat the effects of climate change, and eleven other cities located throughout California


Information gathered from online resources. Last updated on 4/19/10.

Project File (s)

The San Diego Foundation Climate Initiative Campaign


Feifel, K. (2010). The San Diego Foundation's Climate Initiative Program [Case study on a project of the San Diego Foundation]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated April 2010)

Project Contact(s)

The San Diego Foundation is San Diego's leading resource for information about charitable giving and community needs. They encourage and support meaningful dialogue on issues affecting the communities of San Diego and work with philanthropists to develop creative solutions to meet critical community needs. Since its inception in 1975, The San Diego Foundation has helped citizens find ways to address community problems. The funds they manage now number more than 1,050. Through them, donors support numerous organizations and serve a variety of community needs.


Scale of Project
Community / Local
Sector Addressed
Development (socioeconomic)
Education / Outreach
Public Health
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Culture / communities
Climate Type
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Community Planning (developing climate-smart communities)
Sociopolitical Setting
Effort Stage
In progress

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