Jan 31, 2019 - Energy & Environment

The outdoors vs. Trump

Illustration of White House with tents out front.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's latest headache comes from outdoor brands increasingly radicalized by climate change and his stewardship of public lands.

Driving the news: Trade groups representing hundreds of outdoor companies announced a new effort this week to push for policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and explore renewable energy.

  • During the government shutdown, Columbia took out full page ads to urge the government to reopen to aid public parks. 
  • Just last year, Patagonia said the company would donate $10 million to non-profit groups that work on climate and environment issues. 
  • The companies also banded together to protest Trump's plan to make big cuts to the size of two national monuments in Utah in 2017.

Why it matters: The big outdoor brands — including REI, Patagonia, Columbia and North Face — have monster social media presences and significant brand loyalty from affluent customers.

  • “These national brands have a reach that nonprofit advocates could only dream of, and they have been using that megaphone in a really effective way to remind people of this issue,” Kayje Booker of the Montana Wilderness Association told the AP.
  • “[W]hen President Trump was elected, some of the threats to our public lands became more high profile,” Outdoor Industry Association executive director Amy Roberts told the AP.

The big picture: More people in the U.S. want brands to take a stand on societal issues, especially on climate change.

  • 51% of Americans want corporations to act to influence policy on climate change, according to a report from Morning Consult.
  • But most consumers don't typically like when companies address issues pegged to Trump, even if many of his actions are what bring certain issues to the public debate.

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