San Diego Climate Change Progress: Results from a City Benchmarking Study

The San Diego Foundation is committed to advancing more comprehensive solutions to climate change by local governments in the San Diego region. However, before acting, it is important to understand the foundations upon which we can build and the gaps to be filled. This study compares the progress on planning for climate change between the nine local cities which have officially declared commitment to climate action, and eleven other cities around California. Comparison cities were chosen based also on these declarations of commitment to the issue, and to represent a similar diversity in size, geography, economic focus, and coastal access as the cities in San Diego. The following report summarizes the current policy context facing local governments and compares the twenty participating cities based on specific steps on climate change planning from completing greenhouse gas inventories to implementing comprehensive plans of action. Many local governments in our region are in the initial phases of planning for climate change. With swift action, addressing the unique local challenges, and by leveraging the appropriate tools, these cities can, and should, keep abreast with their peers elsewhere in California. 


San Diego's Changing Climate: A Regional Wake-up Call

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, modeled projections, and suggests solutions or ways to mitigate the problem.

Managing Seagrasses for Resilience to Climate Change

Seagrasses are flowering plants that thrive in shallow oceanic and estuarine waters around the world. Although there are only about 60 species of seagrasses worldwide, these plants play an important role in many shallow, near-shore, marine ecosystems. There is growing evidence that seagrasses are declining globally because of anthropogenic impacts. This paper presents an overview of seagrasses, the impacts of climate change, and other threats to seagrass habitats. Finally, it proposes tools and strategies for managers to help support seagrass resilience.

Coastal vulnerability to climate change and sea-level rise, Northeast Graham Island, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia

This report documents the approach, methods, and key findings of CCIAP1 Project A580: Coastal vulnerability to climate change and sea-level rise, Northeast Graham Island, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands, QCI), British Columbia. This 3-year study was funded by Natural Resources Canada’s Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations Directorate (CCIAD) with additional contributions from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). In-kind support was also provided by BC Parks, GSC, Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), CHN-Forest Guardians, Old Massett Village Council, and the University of Victoria.

The document contains several sub-sections that present: 1) the research context, objectives and approach, 2) research results on climate change signals and impacts, 3) community-defined impacts and elements of adaptive capacity, 4) key vulnerabilities to climate change related risks, and 5) potential adaptation measures and strategies.

Kayak Point County Park Restoration Feasibility Assessment Phase I

Coastal Geologic Services, Inc. (CGS) has been contracted by Snohomish County Surface Water Management (County) to provide restoration feasibility assessments and proposed restoration designs of the shore at Kayak Point Regional Park. The project is comprised of two phases. The first phase was completed in late 2007 and entailed geomorphic assessments used to support the development of three conceptual beach and backshore restoration designs (Coastal Geologic Services Inc. 2007). A final design would be selected and completed to a 30% and 100% stage in Phase 2. 

The purpose of this study was to provide a coastal geomorphic assessment and restoration feasibility study of the Kayak Point County Park for Snohomish County Surface Water Management.

Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

This report provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date scientific assessment of the impacts of climate change, the vulnerability of natural and human environments, and the potential for response through adaptation. The report:

  • evaluates evidence that recent observed changes in climate have already affected a variety of physical and biological systems and concludes that these effects can be attributed to global warming;
  • makes a detailed assessment of the impacts of future climate change and sea-level rise on ecosystems, water resources, agriculture and food security, human health, coastal and low-lying regions and industry and settlements;
  • provides a complete new assessment of the impacts of climate change on major regions of the world (Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, North America, polar regions and small islands);
  • considers responses through adaptation;
  • explores the synergies and trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation;
  • evaluates the key vulnerabilities to climate change, and assesses aggregate damage levels and the role of multiple stresses.

Urban Planning for Climate Change

Scientific opinion is now unanimous that global temperatures are likely to continue to rise with concomitant extreme weather patterns and events. There is a protean body of scientific literature available on global warming and climate change, which is affecting urban living in every respect from ‘heat islands’, continuous light and sea level changes as well as severe droughts and floods paralysing urban areas. Urban planning implications are reflected in buildings, street and community design for more environmentally sustainable cities. The urban science related to climate change and its implications for human settlement is in its early stages. Nonetheless, climate change is already becoming a concern of insurance and actuarial industries as they begin to assess risk to human settlement, construction and other risks associated with atmospheric conditions. These cannot be anticipated and need to be examined with  a new paradigm for urban problem solving which is outlined in this paper.

Climate Change and the Great Lakes Water Resources

The science is compelling. Now the question for citizens and policymakers is whether existing laws and policies are adequate to protect the Great Lakes from the new pressures of climate change. Unfortunately, the answer is, “No.” However, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (“Great Lakes compact”),1 if enacted, would be an important step in improving Great Lakes water resource policy to meet the challenge of climate change.

Part I of this report focuses on how climate change will impact water resources. It begins with a brief summary of climate change science. It then explores what a changing climate will mean for the GreatLakes, including possible lowering of lake levels, impacts on fisheries and wildlife, changes in Great Lakes shorelines, and reduction of groundwater supplies. Climate change will also reduce water supplies in other parts of the country, creating increased pressure to divert Great Lakes water to other regions. As the Great Lakes and other regions struggle with loss of water supplies, demand for water is expected to increase unless water conservation laws and policies are adopted.Part II of this report focuses on policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and to adapt to the unavoidable impacts on water resources. It begins with a brief summary of recommendations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases which cause climate change. It then evaluates the adequacy of existing Great Lakes water resource policies for responding to the pressures of climate change. Unfortunately, current laws and policies intended to protect Great Lakes water resources from diversions (transfers of Great Lakes water outside of the basin) and overuse within the basin are not up to the new challenges posed by climate change. The region can better protect and manage Great Lakes water resources in a future of climate change by adopting new water resource policies.

The report concludes by examining how the Great Lakes compact gives the region an opportunity to make these improvements in water resource policy and better protect the Great Lakes from the pressures of climate change.

Weathering the Storm: Options for Framing Adaptation and Development

Adaptation to climate change continues to rise on the agendas of researchers, practitioners, and decisionmakers, driven by growing evidence that climate change is real, already observable, and threatening to undermine development. Any effective development and planning process will need to take climate adaptation into account and, conversely, adaptation efforts themselves will often require development interventions to succeed. This paper explores the link between the climate adaptation agenda and the development agenda, building on evidence from more than 130 case studies in developing countries.

While climate impacts are increasingly observed, the debate over managing adaptation has progressed very slowly. This in part is due to confusion about the relationship between adaptation and development—a definitional problem that has hindered not only project design, but also the allocation of funding for adaptation efforts. Notwithstanding the difficulty in developing a concise operational definition, failure to clarify this relationship has meant that funding mechanisms create redundancies or leave gaps in the landscape of critical adaptation and development activities.