Aspen Skiing Co. was among 108 U.S. ski areas from 24 states that signed a so-called climate declaration calling upon federal policymakers to address climate change, according to the National Ski Areas Association, a trade group.
The ski areas joined forces with 40 large businesses, including General Motors and Levi Strauss & Co., in signing the document. The declaration was created by Ceres, an advocate for sustainability leadership that organizes a coalition of investors, companies and public-interest groups to spur the adoption of sustainable business practices. One of its projects is Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy, a coalition of businesses that lobbies for energy and climate legislation enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy.
“It is obvious that the success of ski-business operations depends greatly on climate, which is why we are so invested in programs that keep our slopes sustainable. But our actions alone won’t be enough without strong policies,” said Brent Giles, chief sustainability officer for Powdr Corp. of Utah, parent company of Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, Copper Mountain in Colorado and Killington Resort in Vermont. “We welcome legislative and regulatory initiatives that will reduce carbon emissions, incentivize renewable-energy development and help improve our resiliency in the future.”
Ski areas in the U.S. employ approximately 160,000 people and generate approximately $12.2 billion in annual revenue, according to the National Ski Areas Association. The association says visitors to U.S. ski areas spent $5.8 billion at those resorts over the course of the 2011-12 season. Preliminary figures from the 2012-13 season show an 11 percent increase in visits year over year, to an estimated 56.6 million visits this season, according to the association.
“The past ski season was a banner year for our guests and for our resort, but we can’t gamble on the weather in an uncertain climate. We have to take action,” said Jerry Blann, president of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming. “Resorts have made tremendous efforts to raise awareness on the issue of climate change and to adjust our operations to reduce carbon emissions and manage resources efficiently. We need Washington to take those strategies seriously through stronger policies.”
“Ski-area environmental programs have come a long way in 20 years, particularly in terms of their level of sophistication, demonstrated results, and their concerted focus on addressing climate change,” said Geraldine Link, public policy director for the National Ski Areas Association. “Signing the climate declaration is the next logical step for our members to get solutions to scale.”
“We welcome the ski industry as allies in our work on climate and energy issues and as signatories of the climate declaration. This is an industry that cannot be offshored, and they are calling for climate action here at home,” said Anne Kelly, director of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy. “Policymakers must realize that the old political paradigm of ‘It’s the environment or the economy — pick one’ is a false choice. American businesses are ready to combat climate change, and policymakers should join them in leading the way.”
Ceres and Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy urged other leading businesses, as well as individuals, to sign the declaration at www.climatedeclaration.us.