If the start to 2015 is any indicator, Protect Our Winters is on pace to have their most impactful year yet. The participation in Protect Our Winter’s various initiatives and programs clearly show that momentum is building in the snow sports community, as is the feeling that our industry truly has the ability to make change happen.
The Environmental Protection Agency Comes to the X Games
2015 started off with a bang when Protect Our Winters hosted the head of the EPA, Administrator Gina McCarthy, at the X Games in Aspen on January 22nd.
For Protect Our Winters and the winter sports community, this was a unique opportunity to show our passion for our sports and why we care so much about climate change, to personally thank the EPA for their leadership on carbon pollution and to unite the leadership of the winter sports community in the battle against climate change.
For the EPA to dedicate the time to come see our community in the mountains shows they know how important we are to this fight. A visit with students at an Aspen elementary school and a roundtable with Aspen business leaders was followed by a trip to the X Games venue. McCarthy met a number of pro athletes including Elena Hight, Jake Black, Torah Bright, Maddy Schaffrick, Jordie Karlinski and Kelly Clark, among others. This was an amazing opportunity to connect with the athletes who are the influencers in our sport, who can take the climate message, de-politicize it, and build a powerful social movement with us.
The day ended with a press conference at the base of Aspen Mountain with Olympians Gretchen Bleiler and Alex Deibold. Administrator McCarthy said this is not an environmental issue and it’s not a political issue–it’s an economic one, adding that the snow sports industry puts 67 billion dollars into the nation’s economy each year, and provides almost one million jobs.
“I think we’re just making sure we do whatever we can to get the politics out of this issue. Let’s just face the science, let’s just embrace the challenge,” McCarthy said.
2nd Annual POW Breakfast at the Snow Show Packs the Mile High Ballroom
At the early hour of 7:30 on day two of the 2015 Snow Show, the Mile High Ballroom was packed wall to wall with a who’s who of the snow sports industry to get an update on climate change and its impact on not only our sport and industry, but also our planet. While sobering, the talk by climate hawk David Roberts gave us hope and a strong call to action.
“The ski industry’s power isn’t in its ability to reduce its emissions, it’s in its ability to force decision-makers to solve climate change,” Roberts said. “As a 60B industry with a very unique position and culture, the snow sports industry has tremendous influence to spread awareness. This industry has a direct stake in this in a way that not many industries do, so anything we can do to educate people within the industry and encourage them to get involved is tremendously important.”
Jeremy Jones, Founder of Protect Our Winters and Jones Snowboards, said, “POW’s mission is uniting the industry to fight climate change, and having this opportunity at SIA is so important. The power of SIA is that it’s the gathering of the tribe. This is the industry. Thank you to SIA and David Ingemie for your ongoing partnership and talking a leadership role in fighting climate change with us.”
To read our full interview with David Roberts, check out our blog post with the entire transcript at SIA’s Latest. To follow David Roberts, formerly of Grist.org, find him now at Vox.com or on Twitter @drvox.
To hear industry execs and athletes weigh in on Climate Change’s effect on snow sports and the realities it is causing us all to face, check out Protect Our Winters’ Snow Show video:
A Literal Call to Action at the US Open
At the 2015 Burton US Open, Protect Our Winters kicked off their “Phone It In” campaign, where event attendees and athletes alike stopped by the Protect Our Winters booth and called their elected leaders in Congress to tell them to support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. It took less than a minute and there were almost 200 participants from 28 states calling their senators.
In a recent meeting in Washington D.C., POW representatives were told that a simple phone call to a Senator was one of the most powerful things anyone can do to lobby for an issue. So at the US Open, POW took a bold approach to on-site advocacy and provided those who asked to get involved with the resources to do so. The campaign showed people how easy it is to make a big impact.
Armed with environmental score cards from the League of Conservation Voters and contact information for every sitting Senator, two flip phones, a custom-built phone booth and a detailed script, we asked visitors at the US Open to take immediate action against climate change by calling their Senators in support of the Clean Power Plan, right from the event. The main part of this plan would put emission standards on big power plants, which are responsible for 40% of all global CO2 released annually, and would be a huge step forward in the fight against climate change.
Even if you weren’t at the US Open, you can still “Phone It In” to support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and other important climate issues. Click here to find the right words and the number for your leaders in congress. Your call makes a huge difference, so pick up the phone today and Phone It In!
The Best is Yet to Come