Academy Article
March 2024

Climate Action Commissioners in Action in Alaska, California, Colorado, and More


For more than two years, a diverse group of 31 individuals worked together on the Academy’s Commission on Accelerating Climate Action Commission. Despite coming from different backgrounds and political affiliations, they agreed that America needed to do more in response to the global issue of climate change. In October 2023, they issued 21 consensus recommendations in their report, Forging Climate Solutions: How to Accelerate Action Across America. 

Since the launch of the report, Commissioners have been attending events across the country to discuss the report with business leaders, professors, researchers, activists, and policy makers. With their knowledge, dedication, and insights, these commissioners have helped increase reach and receptivity for the report. 

In addition to presenting and promoting the work at the national AAAS Conference in Denver, Commissioners spoke about forging climate solutions at these events - among others - in February:

In February, Commission cochair David Victor, Professor of Innovation and Public Policy and Co-Director of the Deep Decarbonization Initiative at the University of California, San Diego, and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, presented the report and recommendations to local Academy members in San Diego, followed by a group discussion. Academy members Margaret McKeown, Jurist in residence at UC San Diego, and Susan Taylor, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC San Diego, welcomed attendees. Victor presented a way forward for achieving ambitious and durable action on climate change by uniting efforts across sectors, ideological divides, and the many other forms of diversity that characterize our nation. Victor spoke about building politically durable coalitions where climate action can thrive despite inevitable political changes. To achieve this, he stressed the importance of tangible action to help society envision the path forward. 

The group discussion was extensive on a few topics, including the electrification of transportation systems as a tangible change that will affect all of society, with stated concerns about the challenges of charging stations and vehicle capabilities. The event concluded with participants contributing to an insightful conversation about the physical impacts of climate change in California. It was especially compelling to have members share their localized experiences in the greater San Diego area in relation to the report’s themes and recommendations. 

David Victor Climate Change California Discussion
David Victor (far right) talks to attendees after his presentation. Photo by Kathryn Caudle.

In his keynote remarks at the Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health’s annual meeting, Commission cochair Mustafa Santiago Ali, Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation, spoke about the inextricable connection between climate and health. The Consortium’s mission is to organize, empower, amplify, and mobilize the voices of doctors and other health professionals to advocate for equitable and effective health-focused climate solutions. Their 2024 annual meeting was "From the Clinic to the Capitol" and was held in Washington, D.C. 

With environmental justice a central theme of the Commission’s report, Santiago Ali spoke about how fossil fuel infrastructure is often found in vulnerable communities and how a clean economy can directly improve health outcomes. Linda Rudolph, Principal Investigator at the Center for Climate Change and Health at the Public Health Institute, who served on the Commission, participated in a panel discussion titled Big Oil v. Our Health: How Industry Has Stymied Action, along with Ben Franta, Laalitha Surapaneni, and moderator Bev Harp.  

Mustafa Ali Climate Consortium Meeting
Mustafa Santiago Ali addresses the audience during his keynote presentation. Photo courtesy of the Medical Society Consortium.

Commission Chair Mustafa Santiago Ali and Commission member Patricia Cochran, Executive Director of the Alaska Native Science Commission, spoke at the 2024 Alaska Forum on the Environment, the largest environmental conference in Alaska that convenes government agencies, non-profit and for-profit businesses, community leaders, Alaska’s youth, conservationists, biologists and community. Cochran and Santiago Ali gave presentations on the wisdom of elders and environmental justice respectively. Copies of the Commission’s report were available for attendees to take home. Santiago Ali discussed the Commission’s process of working through divisive issues to reach consensus. Participants were keen to hear about the mitigation and adaptation recommendations in the report that promote equitable solutions and new economic growth within affected communities. 

Learn more about the Commission's bipartisan, crossdisciplinary recommendations for accelerating climate action.