OIA in D.C.: Notes From the Hill—Earth Day Action

We can’t talk about the Earth without talking about the climate. This year, we’ll bring our industry’s climate message to stakeholders in D.C. and across the country.

For almost a half century, America has celebrated Earth Day on April 22. What started in 1970 as a response to an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara has become not only an annual call for environmental protection but a global movement. Yet despite decades of activism and growing awareness, many of the environmental threats that worried us back then are even more critical today.

The outdoor industry is one of the first to experience the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change. Recently, the National Climate Assessment released by the U.S. government pointed to outdoor recreation and tourism as parts of the American economy most impacted by climate change. It affects our public lands and waters, it affects the seasonality of our outdoor experiences, it impacts the supply chains we use to manufacture the products that enable our lives outdoors and it impacts our overall economy. Most important, it impacts our communities and our children’s future quality of life.

We’re proud that our industry has been a leader in sustainable business innovation, constantly seeking ways to reduce our industry’s impacts on the environment through responsible supply chain measures. The Outdoor Foundation’s work to help all individuals in America thrive outside is also an important piece of the puzzle because it is creating future environmental stewards. We are also proud of companies like The North Face that issued a petition this year to make Earth Day an official U.S. government holiday that would, among other things, give many people a day to go outside and enjoy the great outdoors. We have signed that petition and invite you to do so as well.

We have seen how powerful the business voice can be in the climate and environmental dialogues, which is why Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has made addressing climate change part of its policy agenda. OIA was an early signer of the We Are Still In declaration in support of the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. To date, the declaration has collected signatures from 3,500 CEOs, mayors, governors and other leaders. More recently at the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show, we announced the Outdoor Business Climate Partnership (OBCP), which brings together the trade groups representing the outdoor industry, snow sports industry and resorts. The OBCP will support bipartisan policies that result in broad-scale carbon emission reductions, promote energy innovation and bolster our country’s transition to a clean energy economy. We will also continue to support our members in their efforts to reduce their carbon emissions and engage on state level policies and utility initiatives to decarbonize the energy grid. We know that combining our voices on shared interests is the best way to move the needle on this important challenge.

In fact, more than 100 OIA members are headed to Washington, D.C., next week for our annual Capitol Summit—at which climate will be a central topic. We plan to meet with members of Congress from key committees, including the House Select Committee and Senate Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, to emphasize the need to develop sensible and bipartisan climate policy reforms and to extend our support in that process. Later in May, the OBCP will join CERES in Washington, D.C., for another round of congressional meetings with an even broader coalition of businesses, including L’Oreal, Nestlé and Microsoft.

We also recognize that state and local governments play a critical role in addressing climate change by setting their own environmental standards and codes of conduct and investing in renewable energy, incentivizing conservation and supporting a strong recreation economy. Therefore, our state and local policy team is prioritizing efforts to support state and local initiatives across the country.

There is an increased need and urgency to address the causes of climate change and mitigate and adapt to its impacts. The outdoor industry is uniquely positioned to help in this transition through our commitment to and leadership in driving sustainable business practices, our ability to bridge partisan divides to find common sense solutions and our role as an economic driver that can be a part of a broader economic transition to a more sustainable economy. Read more about next week’s OIA Capitol Summit here, and reach out to Andrew Pappas or me if you’d like to join us in May for the CERES fly-in. And of course, stay tuned for more on this key priority.