People gathered together on Ocean Beach

Coming Together for the Climate

A video challenge for California middle and high school students

Climate change is a global problem that has many local implications. It impacts all of us, and it will take all of us working together to face it. What solutions work for your community? The California Coastal Commission invites California middle and high school students to present a video response to the question:


Entry deadline: midnight March 31, 2020.

Click on the titles below to read more.

  • Rules, Tips, and How to Enter

      Photographing the Bay from San Francisco's Embarcadero
    • Video will be a maximum of three minutes long. Enter on your own, or as a group of no more than five film makers. (You might have more people involved in the project—for instance, you might have more actors—but "film maker" is the person or people primarily responsible for the project who will be recognized if the video is chosen as a winner.) If entering as a group, one person must be designated as the main contact and to receive the contest prize on behalf of the others if your video is chosen. Pick a film maker who's good at responding promptly to emails and phone calls. We'll also need a mailing address for that person (which can be in care of their school if necessary). Film makers must be middle school or high school level students in California, in school or homeschooled. You may enter as part of a class project or independently.
    • If you don't have a device that can record video, your school or your local library will often have technology you can borrow. Free video editing software is available online, or via your school or library, or you can download a video editing app for your phone.
    • In addition to live-action film, animated video is also eligible.
    • Use a horizontal orientation ("landscape" rather than "portrait") when filming your video. Get more video production tips.
    • If you include music in your video, only use music that is your own composition or that is copyright free (or Public Domain or Creative Commons). Some sources of available music include the Youtube Audio Library, the Free Music Archive, and Musopen. Include all necessary credits at the end of your video.
    • Upload your finished video to Youtube, and be prepared to submit your video file directly to us if your entry is selected as a finalist. Don't mark your video "Private," because we won't be able to see it if you do. (The minimum age for a Youtube account is 13. Videos can be uploaded to an account owned by the contest entrant or by a teacher or other adult. If uploading to Youtube presents a problem for you, please contact us and we'll figure out a solution.)
    • If your video includes language other than English, please provide English subtitles OR English translations in the description box on YouTube. If you would like to add English subtitles to your video, check out this how-to guide. Note: translations do not have to be 100% perfect, but should be accurate enough to understand in English. Google Translate is fine to use.
    • Complete a Consent, Waiver of Liability, and Release form. Each film maker, and a parent or guardian for anyone under 18, must sign this form. If you have identifiable people in your video they must complete a Right to Use Video Likeness form, including if the person is a film maker. (If you don't have access to a printer and need copies mailed to you, email Scan or photograph these documents, then fill out the online Entry Form, where you will upload the documents and provide us with the link to your video. (If you have trouble scanning and uploading the documents, submit the entry form with all the other information and then email
    • By entering, you grant the California Coastal Commission non-exclusive ownership of the video. Students may enter only one video in this year's challenge.
    • Prizes may be offered to the top three entries: $300 for 1st place, $200 for 2nd place, $100 for 3rd place. You may enter as an individual or a group, but one prize will be offered per winning entry. Videos will be judged by a panel of experts from a variety of disciplines. We're looking for great videos that will motivate and inspire our communities to come together for the climate!
    • Enter the Challenge!

    • Photo of people on the beach jumping for joy

      Thank you to the Climate Challenge Judges:

      Noah Christman, Public Programming Manager, San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association

      Sachi Cunningham, Multimedia Journalist and Filmaker

      Zolboo Namkhaidorj, Youth Organizer, Communities for a Better Environment

      Chris Neighbors, Producer

      Elena Perez, Environmental Justice and Climate Resilience Champion

      Lucero Rios Castillo, Youth Organizing Intern, Communities for a Better Environment

      Laura Tam, Program Officer, Resources Legacy Fund

      And California Coastal Commission staff

  • What does it mean to come together?

    • This section will help get you brainstorming on the content of your video.
    • Smiling people doing habitat restoration in wetland
    • Consider the meaning of the word community. It may refer to
      • My school, neighborhood, church, sports team, club, online forum, marching band, dance troop...
      • My town, or even my state or federal government.
    • How do communities work together to solve problems?
    • How do communities work together when they are made up of people with different backgrounds or interests?
    • Who has more power in our society and who has less? How can those with less power get more, and how can those with more power use it wisely?
    • If you were to imagine your community anew, in an equitable world that has come together for the climate, what would it be like? If your vision is the goal, what steps must we take to get there?
  • What does it mean to address climate change?

    • This section will help get you brainstorming on the content of your video, and offers background information and some potential directions for research. There are lots of possibilities, and these are only a handful.
    • King Tides cover Cabrillo Beach and wash into the parking lot
    • Climate change is caused when we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas, releasing carbon dioxide into the air. Carbon dioxide acts like a heat-trapping blanket over the earth which thickens as we continue to burn fossil fuels, warming the atmosphere, land, and ocean. While a regular amount of CO2 is given off by animals and used by plants as part of a natural, balanced process, we are adding a rampant amount of carbon dioxide through the burning of fossil fuels. This rampant carbon dioxide causes problems like global warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification, extreme weather, and more frequent and severe wildfires. We all have to come together to protect the people and places we love from climate change.

      You might come up with something entirely original that no one has ever thought of before, or with a new way to look at an old idea. Your creativity and originality is valuable. Your experience and perspective is unique.

      Some things you might consider:
      • Talking about climate change is important. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication showed that while 70% of Americans surveyed in 2018 understand that global warming is happening, 64% never discuss global warming with others. Only 57% of Americans surveyed understand that climate change is caused by people, and 48% think it won't harm them personally.
      • Eliminating the use of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas will slow and reduce the impacts of climate change. The United States gets 81% of its total energy from coal, oil, and natural gas for uses like heating, transportation, manufacturing, and electricity. In California, almost half of electricity is from renewable sources, but that varies widely depending on your local community's resources and choices. In 2018, California passed a law to end the use of fossil fuels for electricity by 2045.
      • Populations that are already vulnerable today are more at risk from climate change impacts. People living in poverty, tribal communities, immigrants, the elderly, and other groups may suffer more than those who have fewer burdens and greater wealth (which makes it easier for them to adapt and respond to climate changes like flooding, pollution, wildfires, heat, and disease). Climate justice is a concept that focuses on addressing the unequal burdens of climate change on at-risk communities and addressing equity as we work on climate change solutions. How can an already challenged community improve health and happiness for its residents today and in the future? How can successful strategies be lifted up and expanded?
      • According to the US EPA, transportation is the largest source of heat-trapping gases in the United States, at 29% of the total. Emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes. What methods of more sustainable transportation are available in your community? How could they be improved? How could your community reduce the distance traveled for things like work, shopping, and recreation?
      • We can pull carbon dioxide out of the air (carbon sequestration) through things like tree planting, carbon farming, kelp restoration, wetlands conservation, and through new technologies. Many of these actions have other benefits for natural and human communities.
      • While we work to reduce our use of fossil fuels, it's important to plan for a future of climate change. Sea level is rising, although the amount it will rise depends on how fast we eliminate carbon dioxide emissions. California and local communities throughout the state are asking for public input on how to responsibly plan for the future. The decisions we make today will have a big impact on what our communities look like tomorrow. Learn about the Coastal Commission's sea level rise planning efforts and consider signing up for the email list find out about opportunities to get involved.
      • We can protect coastal communities and habitat through nature-based actions including dune and wetland restoration. Beaches (which are important public recreation lands as well as serving as habitat and flood protection) can move inland as sea level rises unless hard structures are in the way of that movement.
      • Some people and organizations are encouraging the use of the words climate crisis, climate breakdown, or climate chaos instead of climate change. Think about how word choices can inform or confuse an audience, and how they can encourage or discourage communities to come together to take action. What words will you use to communicate to your audience?
      • Project Drawdown is a research organization that identifies, analyzes, and reviews global climate solutions. Find their ranked list of solutions and read more about each of them.
      • King tides flood the street in Imperial Beach
  • Why the California Coastal Commission?

    • The California Coastal Commission was established by a California voter initiative in 1972 and later made permanent by the California State Legislature through adoption of the California Coastal Act of 1976. The Coastal Act mandates the Commission to "protect, conserve, restore, and enhance" the state's coastal resources. As a result, the Commission must consider climate change, including global warming and sea level rise, through its planning, regulatory, and educational activities, and work to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions and the detrimental impacts of global warming on the California coast.
    • Kelp forest off Anacapa Island, photo by Dan Zarate
Questions? Email or call (415) 597-5888.