Policy Blog: How States Can Drive Federal Climate Policy

As the federal government begins chipping away at climate protections, states have a unique opportunity to step into the driver's seat.

By Andrew Pappas April 5, 2017

The outdoor industry is uniquely threatened by the impacts of climate change. Accessible and healthy public lands, clean air and clean water are requisites for outdoor recreation. Without those things, outdoor companies and their customers can’t enjoy and benefit from time outdoors. The industry needs predicable weather cycles, so they can reliably account for seasonal product inventories and plan our adventures. They need to know there will be enough snow to sustain our winter activities and enough water to sustain our summer ones. The industry needs certainty that raw materials such as cotton and wool won’t disappear or become prohibitively difficult or expensive to source.  

 All of that is why Outdoor Industry Association has worked at the federal, and now the state level on behalf of the industry and the $646 billion recreation economy. We need to impress upon elected officials that climate change is more than an environmental issue, it is a business issue and good climate policies are investments in the future of the recreation economy.  


The Background 

Last week at the headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., President Trump signed an Executive Order  aimed at rolling back a number of federal climate policies including the Clean Power Plan. As he was doing that, I was with Ceres and BICEP, OIA member company Clif Bar and other businesses in Sacramento, California. We were visiting the capitol to let the state legislature know it has an opportunity to lead the nation on climate issues. Businesses representing the healthcare, fashion, infrastructure and outdoor industries came together to request responsible climate policy that will support commerce and protect the environment.  

In 2006, California passed AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, a climate and clean energy bill that included cap and trade and the low-carbon fuel standard. Since its implementation in 2013, California’s Cap-and-Trade program has brought money into the state’s economy while helping the state reach its 40-percent greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal by 2030.  

Cap-and-Trade policy allows for regulated businesses and the economy to have some flexibility in their path towards GHG reductions through the auction and trading of emission allowances with others.  


The Ask 

It is important, now more than ever, that states like California take the lead in addressing climate change. 

 California is already leading by example, and we wanted to support lawmakers’ efforts to extend the state’s Cap-and-Trade program through 2030. Doing so is an important component in helping California reach its 2030 GHG reduction goals and in inspiring other state’s to follow suit. While we understand and acknowledge that there have been difficulties with the program, we must continue supporting the policy. 

 We also made sure the state assembly members and senators know that Cap-and-Trade is only one part of the climate change solution. We must also: 

  • support programs and policies that promote renewable energy and make it more accessible and reliable  
  • acknowledge the role that public lands and spaces play in mitigating the impacts of climate change
  • support low-carbon fuel standards 
  • remain vigilant about water resources in the drought-prone state and support communities and economies that are impacted by drought 
  • support the creation of an office of outdoor recreation that can represent the voice of outdoor businesses in conversations about climate policy 

California can and should be an example for other states seeking pro-business approaches to addressing the climate change.  


What’s Next 

Cap-and-Trade isn’t a single silver-bullet solution, so we will work with our partners to push the conversation forward, address the issues and set an example for other states and for the federal government. Addressing climate change is good for healthy communities and for healthy economies. Businesses rely on regulatory certainty, and California businesses are adapting to the state’s climate policies. By extending its Cap-and-Trade program, California allows businesses to plan for the future. 

OIA and our partners will continue working with California policymakers on legislation to mitigate the impacts of climate change and help grow the outdoor recreation economy.

Continue reaching out to your elected officials to let them know climate change affects the outdoor recreation industry and that now is the time to address it.