Policy on Climate Change

Approved by the Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors on October 15, 2006. Updated July, 2018

Policy on Global Climate Change 

Whereas, global warming is a scientific reality and average global temperatures have increased by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, with scientists predicting a perpetual rise in global temperatures;

Whereas, the scientific community overwhelmingly agrees that greenhouse gases (GHG) trapped in the atmosphere contribute to global warming and induce climate change; 

Whereas, many climate change impacts, caused by global warming, are felt more acutely along our coasts, both along shore and in the water;

Whereas, climate change will increase the frequency and severity of storms, exacerbating erosion and storm damage, thus threatening coastal communities and the health of beaches and ecosystems;

Whereas sea level rise, caused by thermal expansion due to warming ocean temperatures and melting land-based ice, such as glaciers and ice sheets, will greatly impact coastal communities, ecosystems, and recreation;  

Whereas, the global mean sea level has already increased by 190 mm (7.5 in) between 1901 and 2010, with the average rate of sea level rise increasing in later years (3.2 mm/year between 1993 and 2010);

Whereas, the magnitude of sea level rise is dependent upon current and future global GHG emission pathways, and subsequent ocean thermal expansion and melting rates of land ice;

Whereas, the global average sea level rise projections from the IPCC range from roughly 1 ft. to 3.2 ft. by year 2100, while other studies have projected global average sea level rise as high as 6.6 ft. by 2100, with regional and local variations;

Whereas, absorption of CO2 in the ocean alters environmental conditions, including temperature, acidity, and oxygen levels causing the ocean to be 30% more acidic since the beginning of industrial revolution and significantly impacts marine life including coral reefs. 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors,

Supports, through collaboration with partner organizations, efforts to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Will address coastal issues with increased urgency, take climate change and sea level rise into account when considering coastal and ocean issues, and encourage all public and private entities to do the same.

Believes that climate change and sea level rise further reduce the efficacy of shoreline armoring and beach fill.

Will thus continue to advocate for shoreline policies that include appropriate setbacks for coastal development based on current and predicted erosion, sea level rise and associated trends.

Will encourage immediate work towards managed landward retreat of existing structures from dynamic shorelines, including shorelines affected by sea level rise.  

Will encourage efforts to protect natural resources that provide coastal hazard mitigation benefits, such as seagrass, kelp, sand dunes, wetlands, and mangroves.

Will encourage coastal management agencies and local jurisdictions to conduct thorough sea level rise vulnerability assessments, and develop adaptation plans that discourage shoreline armoring, and instead promote managed landward retreat, development setbacks, and protection of coastal natural resources.

More information and references can be found here.