Aspen Skiing Co., Vail add voices to ‘We Are Still In’ on climate action | PostIndependent.com

Aspen Skiing Co., Vail add voices to ‘We Are Still In’ on climate action

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

Aspen Skiing Co. joined business heavyweights such as Nike, Google, Apple and Campbell Soup Co. on Monday in signing an open letter declaring they will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement despite President’s Trump pullout last week.

Skico joined the “We Are Still In” movement to make a statement that “we’re going to push even harder” in response to Trump’s decision, said Auden Schendler, the company’s vice president of sustainability.

The open letter states, “The Trump administration’s announcement undermines a key pillar in the fight against climate change and damages the world’s ability to avoid the most dangerous and costly effects of climate change. Importantly, it is also out of step with what is happening in the United States.”

The entire letter can be read at http://wearestillin.com/.

More than 1,000 companies, universities and colleges, mayors and nonprofits signed the letter. They don’t pledge to take specific action but generally say they will remain engaged to hold global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and accelerate the transition to a clear energy economy.

Nevertheless, Schendler insisted the letter goes beyond symbolism. He said it is a “call to arms” by major consumers of energy, and several smaller companies speaking in a unified voice. Their collective efforts can force utilities providing power to either start pursuing renewable energy or increasing it within their portfolio.

The city of Aspen also endorsed the effort, as did Aspen Brewing Co.

Skico will continue to push its energy provider, Holy Cross Energy, to provide more power from renewable sources, Schendler said. It will also step up its lobbying efforts on state and national energy policy issues.

“We’re going to push hard on the state level to increase renewable energy and efficiency,” he said.

In a quote supplied to organizers of the We Are Still In movement, Schendler said, “Aspen Skiing Company isn’t just opposing withdrawal from Paris. 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.”

The Colorado ski industry was well represented in the open letter. Vail Resorts signed the document, as did Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain Ski Resort and Telluride Ski and Golf.

Even before the We Are Still In effort was publicized, Vail Resorts chairman and CEO Rob Katz released a statement Friday that said the company was “deeply saddened” by the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“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,” Katz said in the statement. “Vail Resorts will redouble our efforts to find significant ways to minimize our carbon footprint through reducing our energy use to help address one of the most serious challenges facing our worldwide community.”

Outside of Colorado, the letter was endorsed by Boyne Resorts, the California Ski Industry Association, Deer Valley Resort, Killington Ski Resort, POWDR Corp., Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, Sugarbush Resort and Taos Ski Valley.

Basalt- and Boulder-based Rocky Mountain Institute was credited with being one of the parties that helped coordinate the We Are Still In statement. RMI typically avoids anything even vaguely hinting at political. However, it posted a statement on its website June 1 saying it was “greatly disappointed in President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

The statement from CEO Jules Kortenhorst said Trump’s action will significantly undermine global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. However, RMI also expressed optimism that the transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency will continue, thanks to the countries still committed to the Paris Agreement and companies, organizations and individuals in the U.S. that disagree with the federal government’s direction.

“In the electricity system, renewable energy and natural gas together produced half of U.S. electricity supplies last year, while coal made up only 30 percent — the smallest share since officials started keeping track 70 years ago,” RMI said on its website.

RMI’s entire statement can be read at https://rmi.org/news/rmi-statement-u-s-withdrawal-paris-agreement/.

scondon@aspentimes.com