Opinion

The Outdoor Industry Leads on Climate – but We Can’t Do It Alone

In 2021, businesses are taking the lead to address climate change and adopting smart, sustainable practices – and nowhere is that more evident than in the outdoor industry.

In June, the Outdoor Industry Association’s Climate Action Corps announced its first Annual Impact Report and set the goal to become the world’s first climate-positive industry by 2030. More than 100 forward-thinking companies, including Burton, Klean Kanteen, NEMO Equipment and Specialized, are urgently working to reduce greenhouse gases and adopt climate policies to protect the outdoors and grow our $788 billion industry.

The outdoor industry is uniquely impacted by climate change, which complicates supply chains and harms the outdoor spaces in which our businesses operate and our customers recreate.

Take for example, the Western wildfires, which have devastated summer outdoor recreation and led to multiple forest and campground closures, or the decline in snowfall in many regions of the country, such as the Adirondacks, where winter activities make up to 30 percent of the local economy. We believe it is time for urgent and meaningful action and companies like ours have the responsibility to prioritize climate goals, reduce our emissions, and implement sustainable practices in our supply chains.

As a group, 78 percent of outdoor companies who have made this commitment have already taken the first step to measure and begin setting goals and reducing our own carbon footprint. In June, each of our companies was recognized for our work to embrace innovative and climate-forward business strategies with coveted Path to Positive Climate Leadership awards by the Outdoor Industry Association.

But the outdoor industry can’t fix the climate crisis alone. We need the federal government to bring other groups along.

This year, Congress has introduced innovative solutions, such as the Civilian Climate Corps Act, which would put Americans back to work and help communities become more climate resilient by mitigating wildfires and preventing floods. The Senate has also passed the Growing Climate Solutions Act with overwhelming bipartisan support to help farmers and foresters access the carbon market.

Additionally, after months of negotiations, Senate Republican and Democratic lawmakers worked with the Biden administration to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal, which promises significant investment in critical utilities infrastructure, electric vehicle infrastructure and other natural infrastructure. The deal importantly includes the REPLANT Act, which aims to aid reforestation efforts by planting 1.2 billion trees in national forests. But that’s just the start of a journey we need to take together as a country.

The scale of the climate emergency driving extreme weather around the globe is massive. However, the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report suggests we have an opportunity to avoid instability from the worst climate impacts if we take decisive action now.

We urge Congress and the Biden administration to support ambitious climate legislation in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill. Our industry is hopeful for a far-reaching, once-in-a-generation investment in climate policies that will fully address the impacts of climate change, including a Clean Power Payment Program, support for traditional energy communities during the transition to using cleaner energy sources and advancements in natural climate solutions.

Climate action and sustainable business practices are about more than just the environment: They’ve also proven to be good for business and for the economies in which we operate. By adopting new goals, we’ve pushed ourselves and others in the industry to be more innovative and competitive in the global market while bringing new positions and job opportunities to the communities we serve.

Embracing ambitious climate goals can certainly be daunting, but this industry has been a leader on sustainability and climate-smart policy for years. Companies involved in the Climate Action Corps collaborate to reach the goals we lay out and influence policy at every level to ensure we’re doing as much as we can to address the climate crisis. And we intend to help other industries, leaders and lawmakers make climate-forward decisions, too. That’s why we look forward to advocating for these priorities directly to lawmakers during this critical moment.

For the sake of the people we serve, the planet and the economy, we urge every industry and level of government to join the outdoor industry in making climate action a critical priority as we define our policies and vision for the future. Together, we can turn adversity into opportunity. Together we are a force.

 

Donna Carpenter is chair of the board and John Lacy is CEO of Burton Snowboards, Jeff Cresswell and Michelle Kalberer are owners and co-CEOs of Klean Kanteen and Cam Brensinger is CEO of NEMO Equipment.

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