Barely four hours into his term, President Joe Biden signed a series of presidential actions Wednesday that brought the United States back into the Paris Climate Agreement and began the process of reversing the previous administration’s loosening of environmental protections.
In one of his first official actions as president, Biden formally announced the U.S. would be rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, bringing to an end a four-year limbo on the issue after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the accords in 2017. The latter move was sharply criticized by members of the outdoor industry and environmental advocacy organizations, with one industry leader even writing Trump a passionate open letter that went viral. By re-entering the agreement, the U.S. commits to reducing harmful emissions and striving to lower the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100.
Rejoining the Paris Agreement was a move Biden promised early in his campaign, and was further foreshadowed by John Kerry's attachment to the incoming administration in November 2020. Kerry, who helped draw up the accords, now serves as Biden's presidential climate envoy, a newly-created cabinet position.
Biden also signed an executive order requesting his administration to “immediately review and…take action on” federal regulations and policies of the past four years deemed to be harmful to the environment. The order explicitly revokes the controversial Keystone XL pipeline permit, and directly targets several of the previous administration’s other decisions on public lands, oil and gas drilling, and emissions regulations.
Environmental protection was a key issue for Biden, both on the campaign trail and post-election. He deemed climate change “the number-one issue facing humanity” and committed to reworking the nation’s environmental policy.
The outdoor industry reacts
The response from major players in the outdoor industry was swift and overwhelmingly positive.
Outdoor Industry Association tweeted its support for Biden's actions almost immediately Wednesday. The trade organization noted the president's efforts to reverse several of the previous administration's public lands policies.
"We commend President Biden for keeping his promise to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement," OIA executive director Lise Aangeenbrug said. "It is in our nation’s best interest to pursue bold action on climate."
In a statement released by Snowsports Industries America, SIA president Nick Sargent expressed much the same sentiment.
“Snowsports Industries America (SIA) thanks President Biden for his urgency to address the climate crisis, and we applaud his decision to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement today,” the statement said.
SIA joined 54 other winter outdoor industry businesses in signing a letter to Kerry. In the letter, the group thanks Kerry for “committing to addressing climate change.” Other major signees of the letter include Burton, Dakine, Atomic, and Tecnica Group. You can read the letter and see the full list of signees here.
Policy advocates express thanks
Advocacy groups also lauded Biden's day-one actions. Outdoor advocacy group The Conservation Alliance, whose members include REI, Patagonia and The North Face, provided a statement that, like OIA, applauded Biden's specific attention to public lands conservation. The group also pushed the president to continue with conservation in mind.
"The Conservation Alliance is especially pleased by the President's action to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by placing a temporary moratorium on oil and gas development on the Coastal Plain," the statement, attributed to the group's executive director Brady Robinson, said.
The statement also highlights Biden's proposed review of "egregious boundary adjustments" made to Utah's Bears Ears National Monument by the Trump administration.