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POW's #COP21 Message: "This was the tipping point we’ve been working towards for years. It's huge."

December 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Last weekend, Protect Our Winters wrapped up an incredibly successful two weeks in Paris at the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference. They reported that the agreement reached on Saturday represented a tipping point, as the nations of the world pledged to contain climate change to no more than 2 degrees celcius compared to pre-industrial times. Leading up to the conference, POW did an incredible amount of work to support the Clean Power Plan and worked with partners Ben & Jerry’s and New Belgium Brewing to promote their mission. 

Read our posts about POW’s activities leading up to COP21, including a link to the letter POW delivered to the White House signed by SIA, NSAA and more than 200 other snow sports community members, assuring him of our support in Paris.

Here is the letter POW executive Director Chris Steinkamp sent on Sunday, December 13, 2015, which gives a great wrap-up of what happened at COP21, and an overview of  the agreement reached between the 200 world leaders who participated:

Dear POW supporters,

The sky opened up here in Breckenridge on Saturday and it’s been snowing ever since. It’s kind of a fitting tribute to what just happened in Paris.

On Saturday, nations of the world approved what may be the most historic global treaty since Versailles, pledging to contain climate change by backing rapidly away from the uncontrolled combustion of fossil fuels. In other words, it’s huge.

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It sets ambitious goals, reducing emissions from burning fossil fuels and clearing forests so that warming is contained to no more than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times and—in even higher ambition—to try to keep the rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius. For more detail on the agreement, take a look here.

This was the tipping point we’ve been anxiously working towards for years, ever since the last conference in Copenhagen ended in disaster and the outlook for real progress seemed worse than grim. And now, we’ve found ourselves with something historic; an agreement that has put the fossil fuel industry on notice that we’re moving on. Moving on towards a clean, renewable energy future.

What we saw in Paris was unprecedented – joining world leaders were mayors from over 400 cities calling for strong, immediate action on climate and 154 US companies representing $4.2 trillion in annual revenue, pledging to reduce emissions and calling for climate action. With this kind of pressure and participation, the message was loud and clear: the world isn’t going to wait any longer to transition to renewable energy. The agreement made yesterday accelerates that.

Since 2007, we’ve worked to galvanize the outdoor sports community, a community with so much at stake, around climate action. With some amazing industry partners and athletes, we united the community around the passion that we all share. Together, we elevated our voices and continually pressured our political leaders to understand the influence and economic impact of the snow sports industry and the importance of real action on climate to us.

For example, just a few weeks ago in partnership with SnowSports Industries America (SIA) and the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), in advance of the negotiations, we hand-delivered a letter to the White House signed by over 200 outdoor industry companies, pro athletes, resorts and trade groups showing our support to President Obama and his climate team for strong leadership in Paris. See it here.

It’s been a long haul, but it’s made this announcement even sweeter. We’ve come a long way together and we should be really proud of this moment.

And here’s the coolest part: through all of this, we’ve become pretty good at movement building. We’ve become an incredibly strong and vocal army of pro athletes, corporate partners, resorts, and individuals that won’t accept the status quo any more because we know what’s right and it’s within our reach. It’s time to celebrate the agreement, but let’s also celebrate what we’ve become.

The work isn’t done by any stretch. This agreement is just the start. We have to stay even more focused now, to make sure that what our leaders agreed to in Paris is followed through on at home. But we’re ready now to take it on.

I’m heading out to make a few turns – since I started writing this last night, the storm has cleared and the skies have turned blue with a foot of new snow. I hope that somewhere today you’ll take a minute to get outside and celebrate this moment.

-Chris

Chris Steinkamp, Executive Director

For more information, go to the Protect Our Winters website, and follow POW on Facebook and Twitter

To see more of what POW did during the COP21 conference, including Gretchen Bleiler and Brody Leven’s involvement, check out our blog post from last week.

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