By Katrina Olson, Volunteer Newsletter Writer
As the volunteer responsible for pulling together upcoming events and news stories for SD350’s weekly newsletters for volunteers, I have a special window into the many ways SD350 took action on climate this year and wanted to share some highlights for 2023.
In a year marked by increasing climate disasters, frightening news, and a frustrating lack of urgency from our government, it can be easy to feel resigned and discouraged. But through our collective actions, we are making a difference. We have made great strides this year by educating the public, influencing policy, and getting our actions out in the public eye. Laws and regulations are changing, our neighbors are more aware, our elected officials pay attention, and the fossil fuel industry and its supporters are losing ground.
All of our actions and programs keep eco-justice at the forefront. We want to continue to build a powerful anti-racist climate movement centered on equity, inclusivity, and climate justice. We do this by educating SD350 members, amplifying Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) voices, and working with diverse partners against white supremacy and for environmental justice.
Together, we’ve accomplished some solid wins!
We took to the streets of San Diego with Rallies and Protests
In January hundreds of San Diego climate activists marched around the Federal Building calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency and to end fossil fuel extraction, alongside dozens of events held around the nation (photos / TV coverage). In March we protested at Chase Bank and Citibank as part of a national day of action across the US to pressure the major banks to stop financing the expansion of the fossil fuel industry (article). In July we held a creative direct action at Sempra to keep up the pressure on President Biden and call for an end to Sempra’s fossil fuel ambitions (photos / TV coverage). These actions have raised public awareness, gained media attention, and put pressure on our elected officials. If it’s about climate SanDiego350 shows up!
We changed government policies
In 2023 we organized thousands of San Diegans to call for better climate policies by sending emails to and calling our elected officials, signing petitions, and completing public input surveys.
Our Youth4Climate volunteers were instrumental in getting San Diego Unified School District and Sweetwater Union Unified School District to pass resolutions committing them to electrify and transition to clean energy (photos / TV coverage). Students gathered and submitted over a thousand signatures in support of these policies, met with School Board members, and testified in public meetings.
Our volunteers attended meetings and provided input through email, phone, and completing public surveys to advocate for better policies, from the County’s Regional Decarbonization Framework, to Climate Action Plans in cities across the County, and the regional transportation plan.
SanDiego350 worked with the Environmental Health Coalition to coordinate a coalition of groups to collect thousands of signatures to help get the “Let’s Go! San Diego” initiative on the November 2024 ballot, a campaign to fund transit infrastructure and operations in San Diego County, prioritizing investment in communities of concern. While we failed to qualify for the ballot in 2022, we’re confident the initiative will move forward and come before voters in 2024.
We have joined the “Power San Diego” campaign that would put an initiative on the 2024 ballot to replace SDG&E with a not-for-profit municipal public power utility. We’ll be collecting thousands of petition signatures for this important measure from now through April 2024. (Interested in this campaign? Get involved)
We educated and engaged the community
Through events like the Carnival for Climate, and participation in many Earth Day celebrations across the county, we educated the public on climate change, and how they can make a difference, and encouraged them to get involved. Our intergenerational movement for climate justice is expanding; this year more than 2,500 new people signed up to receive updates and take action.
Public education is crucial to the SanDiego350 climate mission. Our volunteers have published commentaries (like this one) in the San Diego Union Tribune and regularly submit letters to the editor, and write informative and inspiring blog posts (check out our recent blog posts and monthly newsletters). We have held educational forums, given presentations, and tabled at events to mobilize our community to take action on climate change. It’s why I’m motivated to work on the volunteer newsletter each week, which I hope you find useful!
We have grown our virtual audience by engaging our community on social media, through Instagram, Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), and TikTok. We started a TikTok/Reel subteam to work on creating more educational video content. SanDiego350 members speak to the media and are quoted regularly (check out the “in the news” page on our website).
We empower youth leaders
SanDiego350’s Youth4Climate program helped student leaders organize climate strikes at over a dozen schools across San Diego (TV coverage / student blog / photos). We’ve provided hundreds of youth with mentoring and skills through Youth4Climate programs and the Eco-Club Coalition, including educational programs on climate science, communication, civic engagement and activism for youth. Youth organized several oil spill actions and have begun organizing in support of protecting SB 1137 At the State level, Senate Bill 1137 became law; it creates a minimum health and safety zone of 3,200 ft between residences, schools, and hospitals and new or reworked oil and gas wells. Our youth inspire us by their passion, commitment, and their hope!
Teams: Climate action Plans, State Legislation, Food and Soil, Transportation, Building Electrification, North County (new), Public Power (new), Marketing and Communications, Member Engagement, Raise the Alarm, Youth4Climate, Youth v. Oil, Eco-Club Coalition, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Interfaith Coalition for Earth Justice (our sister organization)
This is the decade where our global community will or we won’t get carbon emissions under control. As we close out 2023, let us resolve now to encourage each other with our shared vision for a healthy, sustainable, just future. And let us bring all the determination, vulnerability, creativity and resilience we can to work collectively toward that future.
Please join me in making an end of year donation to support SanDiego350 (during our drive, Dec 18-31, all donations will be matched 1-1). The weekly volunteer newsletters will be on hiatus from now through new years. We’ll be back on January 1st. See you then!