A new partnership between major outdoor industry groups aims to amp up advocacy around climate change—an issue that has a direct effect on the length of the ski season.
The outdoor industry—including equipment manufacturers, facility owners, retailers, and companies—has reason to focus on climate change.
And it was something on display during the Denver-based Outdoor Retailer Snow Show last month, where three groups that touch upon all of these sectors—the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), Snowsports Industries America (SIA), and the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA)—announced the Outdoor Business Climate Partnership. The new partnership aims to increase advocacy on issues of climate change, which can have dramatic impacts on an industry that relies on a chilly climate to ensure that there’s plenty of snow on the slopes.
“Without a doubt, climate change is something that needs attention from all of us,” SIA President Nick Sargent said at the event, according to The Colorado Sun. “It is truly the most pressing environmental issue of our time.”
The industry, which frequently touts its economic power—OIA states on its website that the U.S. outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs—is in a position to make its voice known on what has proven a difficult political issue.
The partnership plans to tackle the issue in two ways: By advocating for bipartisan climate change reform, and by encouraging industry practices that both raise the voices around climate change advocacy and ensure that members are taking steps in support of responsible practices, such as reducing carbon emissions as a part of their own businesses.
“An ‘all hands on deck’ approach is essential in meeting a challenge as significant as climate change, and together we‘ll have a stronger voice to drive change inside and outside of the outdoor recreation industry,” said NSAA President and CEO Kelly Pawlak in a press release [PDF].
The new move represents a shift in thinking around pro-snow advocacy. The New York Times notes that, prior to the new partnership, advocacy specifically targeted at protecting the ski season has been limited to a few groups, such as Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit started by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones.
While the industry is increasing its advocacy, it emphasizes that its goal is to remain bipartisan on an issue that hasn’t always been quite so bipartisan in nature.
“We take a highroad, proactive approach and not a divisive approach when we work with members of Congress, and we’re going to continue to do that,” NSAA Director of Public Policy Geraldine Link told the Times. “We don’t use ‘doom and gloom’ or ‘sky is falling’ messaging.”