08 • 15 • 2022

Activist Spotlight: JP Bruner With the San Diego Chapter

By Surfrider Foundation

Q: What is your current role with the Surfrider Foundation?

For close to five years, I have been the co-lead of the Climate Change Committee for the San Diego County Chapter.

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

About six years ago, I realized I could do and give more to the causes that I care deeply for. I was drawn to Surfrider because the mission aligned so well with what I wanted to dedicate my time to. It quickly became clear to me that Surfrider is a group that not only gets results, but it also emphasizes community-building and enjoying the places we work so hard to protect.

Q: What are some environmental issues that are affecting your local community?

The climate crisis has or will impact every community, everywhere, and ours is no different. In coastal Southern California, drought, wildfire and sea level rise are the greatest threats that climate change will continue to exacerbate in our community.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

The major policy objectives our committee has contributed to are the creation of Climate Action Plans (CAP), Community Choice Energy (CCE) and Building Electrification.

We need our cities and county to first build strong plans to reduce carbon emissions. This includes where our power comes from, transportation and waste. Once committed to a strong CAP, the community, not the utility company, needs to have control over where our power actually comes from. Having that say allows us to hit our renewable energy targets and transition away quickly from fossil fuels, which is precisely what CCE does. Finally, we need to stop constructing buildings reliant on natural gas and electrify our building stock. Buildings and homes generally last for decades. So, if we know we need to be near total decarbonization by midcentury to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure immediately.

Q: Are there any specific project(s) that you have worked on which benefited your community? If so, can you tell us about that?

The climate change committee is but a small part of a large movement of climate activists in San Diego County. We view our role as lending Surfrider’s voice to the larger climate movement. This entails speaking at council meetings, writing letters, submitting public comments and meeting with elected officials, all alongside many other dedicated organizations and coalitions. The creation of two community choice energy programs in our county, multiple strong climate action plans (including the city of San Diego recently committing to be carbon neutral by 2035), and a new wave of cities adopting electrification ordinances have all been campaigns we are proud to have been part of.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

Our committee works alongside a number of other really impactful local groups and coalitions all dedicated to the fight against the climate crisis. It has been incredibly inspiring to see the amount of people in our area who are so passionate, knowledgeable, and who have sacrificed so much time and energy to this cause.

Q: Do you have any personal experiences or campaigns/issues that you're passionate about where the social justice and environmental movements have intersected? If so, can you tell us about them?

Our committee spearheaded our chapter joining the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance, which is a group of diverse organizations coming together to fight for a just transition away from fossil fuels. The climate crisis and environmental and social justice are inextricably tied together as underserved communities are impacted first and worst by climate change.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

How easy it is get involved, how easy it is to make a legitimate impact, and how easy it is to have your voice heard directly by your elected officials via Surfrider’s platform. You really can make a difference in your local community.

Q: Why is being a part of the Surfrider ocean conservation community important to you?

Surfrider is an amazing avenue and platform to have your voice heard and to be a changemaker. We need as many people and organizations involved in these causes as possible and being a piece of that movement gives me a great sense of purpose. The Surfrider community is also especially uplifting and driven, which keeps the fire and will to push on alive.

Q: Anything else?

Surfrider has given me a sense of fulfillment and purpose I haven’t had anywhere else. I will forever be grateful for the relationships I have made and the opportunities the chapter has given me.