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Everyone deserves clean air, clean water, and a healthy and safe future.

What Causes Climate Change?

Climate change is causing weather patterns in our region to become rapidly more extreme, making natural disasters, like storms and flooding, more likely to occur. 

Climate change has an environmental and humanitarian impact, accelerated by human activity—especially burning fossil fuels.

Here in Southern California, transportation is one of the largest culprits of greenhouse gas emissions. This is because we’ve built sprawling, car-centric communities where the majority of families cannot afford to live close to where they work, play, shop, and go to school. Many are forced to rely on cars—versus taking transit, biking, or walking—to connect to their communities. 


Southern California is experiencing the worsening impacts of the climate emergency—scorching heat waves, blackouts, storms and flooding, deadly wildfires, polluted—all of which threaten the well-being of our families and communities. 


"Global warming" is often used interchangeably with “climate change." Global warming focuses on the earth’s rising surface temperature, which is caused by the greenhouse effect.

"Global warming” is often used interchangeably with “climate change." Global warming focuses on earth’s rising surface temperature, which is caused by the greenhouse effect.

What is the difference between global warming and climate change?

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4.2 Million Acres Burned

in California in 2020

California's 2018 wildfires

cost $148.5 Billion in damage

California's largest fire, August Complex, burned over 1 Million acres in 2020


The last decade has shattered wildfire records. The climate crisis is increasing temperatures and making water more scarce, creating a hot and dry climate. We are also experiencing more frequent and severe storms with strong winds and lightning strikes—the perfect conditions for wildfires. More frequent natural disasters are extremely detrimental to San Diego.

Impacts Include:

  • Increased temperatures and dry weather,

  • Heightened frequency and severity of natural disasters
    like floods, heat waves, and wildfires,

  • Increased drought and extreme heat.


Sprawl Development

Decades of sprawl development have left our communities vulnerable to intense and more frequent wildfires and heat waves, locked families into mega-commutes, and done little to solve our housing shortage.

Sprawl projects are often placed in fire-prone areas, raising ignition risks, endangering people, and harming ecosystems and wildlife. Today, nearly one-third of San Diego County is located at a very high risk of fire!

Storms and Flooding

Less than two months into 2024, Southern California experienced a “thousand-year” storm that left over 1000 San Diegans displaced and 595 homes and businesses destroyed. We are ill-prepared for the challenges posed by our changing climate. These devastating impacts result from aging drainage systems, inadequate flood defenses, and poor urban planning.


Our underfunded storm systems are failing, placing the heaviest toll on frontline communities—already traditionally underinvested—that now bear the brunt of the damages. 

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Image by Mason Field

of California wetlands are gone


of SD coastal sage scrub habitat is destroyed


of California's riparian areas lost


Loss of Habitat and Biodiversity

Many environments can’t adapt to changing conditions. Ice caps are unable to withstand the increasing temperatures and are quickly melting, causing a slow rise in sea level.


San Diego County is one of the most biodiverse regions in the United States, and this biodiversity is threatened by wildfires, extreme heat, drought, and sea-level rise.

Sea-level rise is a pressing problem for coastal regions like San Diego because it increases flooding, threatens wildlife, contaminates potable water, and could impact the agriculture industry.

San Diego’s sensitive wetland habitats are already struggling under flooding, drought, and extreme weather. Loss of these native plants and animals due to climate change will reduce biodiversity and pollute our water systems. 

Impacts Include:

  • Decreased wildlife and biodiversity,

  • Threatened stability of our communities,

  • Limited resource availability,

  • Polluted water.

How do Climate Impacts Hurt Our Health?

Transportation and home burning of fossil fuels are some of the most significant contributors to air, land, and water pollution. These sectors continue to risk the health and well-being of our communities. 

The list of climate impacts on our health is limitless, influencing everything from respiratory issues to the spread of infectious diseases. Rising temperatures worsen air pollution, triggering conditions like asthma and allergies. Extreme weather leads to death, injuries, displacement, and mental health issues. Breathing in toxic fossil fuels in our homes can lead to asthma or cancer.


We must abandon the use of dangerous fossil fuels and switch to cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable alternatives. 

Impacts Include:

  • Increased health risks, such as asthma and cancer,

  • Decreased accessibility of drinkable water and breathable air.



This is why we're teaming up with health professionals to bring climate solutions that center around public health and equity.

Environmental Justice

Although we’re all experiencing the impacts of the climate emergency, these impacts are not equally distributed. Communities of color and low-income communities are unjustly burdened with high levels of pollution without the resources or infrastructure to mitigate this damage.


This is because, throughout history, the United States has consistently sacrificed Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives and land by allowing oil, gas, and other polluting facilities to operate in these communities.


In San Ysidro, our southernmost community, 41% of residents live within 500 feet of a pollution source. Much of this is linked to their extremely close proximity to the San Ysidro-Tijuana border—the busiest land-border crossing in the Western Hemisphere. Here, the asthma rates are 18 times higher than our national average.

The climate crisis impacts everyone, but it impacts communities of color and low-income communities first and worst which is why we need integrated solutions that fight the climate crisis, center communities of concern, and build a just society with an economy in which everyone can prosper.

What Are Other Costs of Climate Change?

Infrastructure damage

Natural disaster prevention and planning

Price surges from reduced resource availability 

Decreased tourism from decreased biodiversity

Health risks and increased medical expenses

Decreased habitats suitable for humans

Reduced productivity due to severe weather

Climate change imposes huge economic costs, but the price of inaction is greater. When discussing the fiscal limits of paying for green infrastructure, implementing legislation, and fighting climate change, we need to be aware of the costs we are already incurring. 

Cornerstones of our existing public transit network, like the LOSSAN rail corridor, are not ready for climate impacts, like sea level rise. The LOSSAN rail corridor, which carries over 7 million passengers and $1 billion in goods annually, is precariously situated on top of the bluffs in Del Mar. Due to the rise in sea level, the bluffs are eroding rapidly, causing regular bluff failures within the feet of the tracks. Long-term solutions to adapt to our existing infrastructure in the face of the climate crisis are politically hard and expensive but absolutely essential.


Help Win The Climate Solutions Our Communities Need

Humans caused the climate crisis, and only we have the power to stop it. In a preliminary report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that, though some impacts of the climate crisis, like sea-level rise, will take years to recover from, with immediate action, we can keep temperatures at the current 1.5ºC. The good news is that we have the solutions. 

At Climate Action Campaign, we’re working to stop the climate crisis at the local level through our five fights: 100% clean energy, bikeable-walkable neighborhoods, world-class transit, resilience, and all-electric buildingsAnd we approach all of this work through the lens of equity and justice because, without racial, economic, and social justice, we can never achieve climate justice. These areas represent our largest sources of emissions as a region and also our greatest opportunities to build healthy, equitable, sustainable, and just communities.


We focus on local solutions that can be replicated at regional, state, and national levels. In 2015, San Diego adopted a 100% clean energy goal, which was then adopted at the state level in 2018 and the federal level in 2020.

But we need all hands on deck to make a zero-carbon future possible! Click here to join the fight for climate justice.

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