WE ARE STILL IN
6th June 2017 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
US ski industry pledges to play its part in implementing global agreement on climate change, despite Trump’s decision to pull out.
Ski Resorts and businesses across the country have put their names to a new movement We Are Still In.
They include the two companies that control most of the major resorts in the US – Aspen Skiing Company and Vail Resorts – whose bosses are highly critical of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement.
Global warming is one of the biggest threats to the winter sports industry.
The two mega corporations have joined hundreds of US businesses, mayors, cities, counties, states and governors in signing an open letter to the international community and parties to the Paris agreement.
In it they declare their intention to ensure the US remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.
“Aspen Skiing Company isn’t just opposing withdrawal from Paris,” Auden Schendler, the Vice President, Sustainability, said.
“We’re going to fight it to the ground, and we’re going to implement the Paris accords ourselves, in our business, in Colorado, and as soon as possible, nationally.”
Aspen Skiing Company, which owns Aspen and Snowmass, recently acquired four resorts in California as well as Intrawest which owns Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado.
The giant Vail Resorts, whose stable includes Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Keystone in Colorado, Park City in Utah, three Lake Tahoe ski areas, as well as Whistler in Canada and Perisher in Australia, said the company was “deeply saddened” by President Trump’s decision.
The Chairman and Chief Executive, Rob Katz, said: “As a global company, Vail Resorts believes we have a unique responsibility to protect the incredible natural landscapes and environment that surround our mountain resorts and those across our planet.
“Climate change is a global challenge that requires global cooperation, and it is disheartening to see the United States pull away from working with the other 194 countries that were part of the Agreement.
“Vail Resorts will redouble our efforts to find significant ways to minimise our carbon footprint through reducing our energy use to help address one of the most serious challenges facing our worldwide community.”
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Two more big US ski resort operators – Powdr Corporation and Boyne Resorts – have also signed up.
Other resort signatories to the open letter include: Arapahoe Basin and Telluride Ski & Golf in Colorado; Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico; Sugarbush, Squaw Valley, Soda Springs, Mountain High in California; Killington in Vermont; Deer Valley in Utah; Big Sky in Montana; and Crystal Mountain in Washington State.
There is also support from state ski associations in California and Vermont and snowsports businesses, including Burton Snowboards.
While winter sports are not the most environmentally friendly of pursuits, ski resorts in the US and around the world have begun to tackle the issue.
It’s not only good for the planet, it’s in their interests as global warming from greenhouse gas emissions threaten shorter winters with less snow.
Although the US enjoyed bumper snowfall this winter, with some resorts still operating long after their usual closing dates, the snow was late coming and a warm November delayed several openings.
So resorts are setting targets to reduce their carbon footprint, making more use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
The National Ski Areas Association, which covers the US and Canada, has a Sustainable Slopes Charter.
So far 195 ski areas (75 per cent of North American resorts by skier visits) have agreed to abide by the charter and take steps to improve their environmental performance.
The California-based environmental organisation Protect Our Winters is stepping up its action on climate change.
Founded in 2007 by pro-snowboarder Jeremy Jones, it now has a worldwide network of more than 130,000 supporters from the outdoor sports community.
Among its supporters is Warren Smith, founder of the Alpine ski school, Warren Smith Academy that is based in Verbier, Switzerland.
In the video below Warren Smith makes a statement for Protect Our Winters, on the effect of global warming that he has witnessed on the glacier in Verbier.
Jeremy Jones has written his own heartfelt letter to President Trump, asking what he should tell the kids.
Do I tell them that we are the largest polluters on the planet and doing the least about it? That the rest of the world has taken climate seriously? That they are creating jobs and opportunities-doing it?
Do I tell them that we have failed them? That we – their parents and grandparents – have failed them? That we have all sat idly by while a great injustice is happening right in front of our eyes? That we have done nothing because change is too hard? That turning coal jobs into renewable jobs is too hard?
I don’t know how you do it. How do you look the kids of our country in the eyes and tell them that you put short-term profits ahead of long-term solutions?
Protect Our Winters is urging Americans to lobby their governors and mayors: “Thanks for helping us take action to move our nation forward, not backward, on climate change”
We Are Still In has the support of major industry leaders including Nike, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and e-Bay.
Its open letter has more than 1,200 signatories.
The letter states: In the US, it is local and state governments, along with businesses, that are primarily responsible for the dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years. Actions by each group will multiply and accelerate in the years ahead, no matter what policies Washington may adopt.
Read the full letter and see the list of signatories
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