Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) on Tuesday announced the Climate Action Corps, a model for alignment, action and accountability for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction in accordance with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines.

The Climate Action Corps will support brands, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers—regardless of size or internal resources—who take a proactive approach to reduce their footprint and commit to doing business better. Companies and organizations that  join the Climate Action Corps must meet four deliverables:

  1. Measure their current carbon footprint
  2. Set greenhouse gas reduction targets
  3. Create company-specific plans and reductions over time
  4. Publicly share their progress annually

“The Climate Action Corps is not just another promise, pact or pledge. This is our industry’s commitment to take action to address the most pressing issue of our time and to hold ourselves and our peers accountable,” said Amy Horton, OIA senior director of sustainable business innovation. “We recognize how daunting a commitment of this kind can feel, especially for companies new to sustainability or climate work. It’s about progress over perfection. This program is specifically designed to provide industry-relevant, guided support—from subject-matter experts and from our uniquely collaborative community—so that every member of the Climate Action Corps has the resources they need to set and achieve aggressive targets.”

Horton announced the Climate Action Corps at the OIA Sustainability meetings, which are held each year in Denver immediately prior to the Outdoor + Snow Show in January. A record 250 sustainability professionals and business executives representing 100 outdoor companies—that collectively represent billions of dollars in annual revenue—attended this year’s meetings. Eric Artz, REI CEO, delivered the opening keynote address and stressed the need for all companies to participate.

“We are not choosing to focus our efforts and resources on climate because it’s fashionable, we’re doing it because we’re scared—scared that our outdoor playgrounds may face the threat of extinction if we don’t act in meaningful ways,” said Artz. “We know we’ll go further together. If we all join in this fight, I have no doubt that we will have an impact and that others will follow.”

REI is one of 15 founding companies that has committed to and joined the Climate Action Corps. Among them are several longstanding members of OIA’s Sustainability Advisory Council, who provided guidance and input in the development of the Climate Action Corps. The founding members include Biolite, Burton, Columbia, Hydroflask, L.L. Bean, Klean Kanteen, MEC, Nemo, Orvis, Oxo, Patagonia, PMI, Primaloft, REI, and The North Face.

“Burton pioneered the sport of snowboarding, and it remains core to our business,” said Jenn Swain, global senior sustainability manager. “A changing climate is a direct threat to this sport we love and the mountain lifestyle that we and our customers lead. As a manufacturer, brand and retailer, we are working hard to reduce our carbon footprint through changes to product design, operations and business practices. However, our impacts as an individual company will not put a dent in global emissions and are why Burton is proud to be a founding member of the OIA Climate Action Corps, building on a strong history of industry collaboration on issues impacting our community and the outdoor playground we share.”

Snowsports Industries America (SIA), the trade association representing over 600 winter sport suppliers, retailers and resorts, representing $72.7 billion in consumer spending annually, signed on as the first association partner.

“The outdoor industry is continuing to unite against climate change, and we’re leveraging the momentum of the Outdoor Business Climate Partnership to create greater impact through this new alliance with the Climate Action Corps. Through this platform, SIA is providing its members with a clear road map and expert guidance to reduce their carbon emissions,” said SIA President Nick Sargent.

Later this year, the Climate Action Corps program will release the Climate Action Corps Guidebook to help members set and meet GHG reduction targets. Climate Action Corps members receive access to outdoor-relevant guidance, tools and training, including on-demand webinars, free online workshops and biannual in-person community learning in conjunction with the industry trade shows. Members will also have the option of participating in Climate Action Corps Impact CoLab projects, specific initiatives—such as widespread renewable energy procurement in the U.S., mill energy efficiency improvements in China, and increased use of recycled content—in which OIA will lead or facilitate partnerships to drive greenhouse gas reductions through collaboration, helping members to meet target goals in less time and for less cost and effort.

OIA will continue to communicate about the Climate Action Corps and expects to bring more companies on board throughout the week of the Outdoor + Snow Show and over the next several months. The Climate Action Corps Field Guide—a digital overview of the program, cost and timeline, and a preview of the Climate Action Corps Guidebook—are available here.

Photo courtesy OIA