Outdoor companies flex muscle with BICEP to pass climate and energy bill

The North Face, Timberland and Clif Bar have added their collective muscle to BICEP, a coalition of corporations lobbying the U.S. Senate and the White House to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill -- but much more needs to be done. Find out how.

The North Face, Timberland and Clif Bar & Company have added their collective muscle to BICEP, a coalition of corporations lobbying the U.S. Senate and the White House to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill. BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy) also includes large corporations such as Nike, Gap and Starbucks.

In June, the House of Representatives passed the “American Clean Energy and Security Act,” a sweeping bill that the U.S. Senate could address in early 2010. BICEP headed to Capitol Hill on Oct. 6-7 to lobby for quick passage.

“The core mission of BICEP is to directly engage policy makers in Washington,” said Peyton Fleming, communications director for BICEP and its parent organization, Ceres (www.ceres.org). Ceres is a national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups that work with companies and investors to address sustainability and climate change.

“As a food company, we understand that growing food depends on a stable climate,” Elysa Hammond, Clif Bar’s director of environmental stewardship, told SNEWS®. “And, as a company run and staffed by people who love the outdoors, we recognize that global warming threatens the places where we hike, run, swim, ski, camp, and kayak to name a few.”

The trip to the Hill was part of an effort by We Can Lead (www.wecanlead.org), an umbrella business organization including more than 150 business leaders from utility, manufacturing and clean-energy companies. BICEP and We Can Lead members dined with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, met with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and also met with more than two dozen leading Senate members.

One of the main goals of BICEP is to provide a business perspective in the effort to address climate change, said Letitia Webster, director of corporate sustainability for The North Face.

“I think there’s been a lot of false information out there, and a lot of information that this is bad for business,” said Webster. “We wanted to get out in front and say that putting together a solid climate change legislation and policy is good for business for a lot of different reasons.

“We need to understand what carbon is going to cost, what the rules of the game are going to be around climate and energy policy. Once we figure out the rules of the game, we can then forecast and predict our business much better.”

Webster added that climate and energy policy could help the U.S. manufacturing infrastructure, which she said has been hurt by jobs moving to other countries. “We have an opportunity to bring back those good-paying tech jobs if we spur innovation and spur the economy around clean energy jobs,” said Webster.

In December, Webster and other BICEP members will participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, running Dec. 7-18.

Get involved

As debate heats up regarding climate change policy, Webster encourages other outdoor companies to join in the work being done by BICEP.

“If you want to lead you have to set the conversation, and that’s an important component of why we’re involved in it,” she said. “It would be great to get even more outdoor industry companies involved. This is a huge opportunity to get the outdoor industry’s voice out there.”

According to the BICEP website, BICEP members are companies that have a track record of supporting sustainability and agree with the following nine principles:

  1. Set short- and long-term greenhouse gas reduction targets 
  2. Stimulate green job growth
  3. Adopt national renewable energy standard
  4. Capture vast energy efficiency opportunities
  5. Boost investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage technologies
  6. Establish cap-and-trade system with 100% auction of carbon allowances
  7. Encourage transportation for clean energy economy
  8. Limit construction of new coal plants to those that capture and store CO2
  9. Assist developing countries in adapting to climate change and reducing carbon emissions

Click here to read more about becoming a member of BICEP.

Click here to read a Nov. 12, 2009, op-ed piece concerning climate change that was written by Steve Rendle, CEO of The North Face, and Mike Kaplan, CEO of Aspen Skiing Company, and appeared in High Country News

--Marcus Woolf