Turning Climate Rhetoric Into Political Action

Industry leaders convene ahead of Telluride Mountainfilm to learn how to push policy that addresses climate change.

By Gareth Martins May 31, 2017

Energy and anticipation are never in short supply ahead of Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. This year was no exception. Themed “The New Normal”, this year’s festival was focused broadly on the issue of climate change and how we, the outdoor industry and consumers at large, can effectively tackle it—right now. That feeling of urgency inspired Mountainfilm, Outdoor Industry Association and Protect Our Winters to convene the inaugural Outdoor Industry Climate Leadership Summit (OICLS) one day ahead of Mountainfilm.

More than 50 outdoor and ski industry leaders, athletes, local business leaders and local elected officials gathered for a day of education and perspective, followed by an open forum discussion. Participants heard from experts in the areas of science, business and policy. Presenters included John Holdren, former science advisor to President Obama; Chris Miller, Ben and Jerry’s social mission activism manager and Jon Goldin-Dubois, Western Resources Advocates president.

The Summit culminated with a forum discussing the outdoor industry’s call to action, including a signed commitment statement and actions to influence climate policy. Leaders worked to form a “CEO Alliance,” which will aim to unite outdoor industry leaders with an effective platform for large-scale, meaningful policy solutions to climate change.

Here are some key takeaways from that discussion:

  • Companies need training, tools and clear messaging to advocate for policy that addresses climate change.
  • The industry as a whole needs to identify the mechanism(s) best suited to grow the conversation.
  • Past climate events have garnered similar perspectives but stopped short of generating real action.
  • The conversation needs to extend beyond our bubble.
  • The outdoor industry is a job creator and helps diversify economies across the United States, meaning we have the opportunity to work with diverse communities to address climate change.
  • Addressing the impacts of climate change is a critical component in protecting our public lands.

Addressing these challenges and applying them to action will be the first mission of the CEO Alliance. Outdoor Industry Association, Protect Our Winters and Mountainfilm have committed to working together to that end, with the next summit convening at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2018.

In the meantime, there was enthusiastic consensus in the room to sign the commitment statement and engage in the following proposed actions, as recommended by the experts who presented and participated in the climate discussions:

  • Advocate for sound climate policy at the state, city and local level.
  • Push for policy decisions in Congress that continue the progress made in the past several years.
  • Understand and communicate that by supporting a healthy environment, you are supporting healthy communities and economies.

View the CEO Alliance Pledge & FAQ.

Look for updates on who has signed the pledge and how they are engaging in the climate change discussion in weeks to come. Want to join the CEO Alliance? Email OIA’s policy advisor Andrew Pappas apappas@outdoorindustry.org for more information.