An Outdoor Community Manifesto for the European Election 2024. Calling for continued leadership and maximum ambition in the face of the ecological and climate crisis.

The outdoor community sits in a unique position experiencing, on a daily basis, the effects of our rapidly changing environment; through the lens of shrinking glaciers, diminishing snowpack, intensified rockfall, and increased extreme weather events.

Safeguarding nature is crucial for our sector, not only to sustain the jobs and local economies we rely on but also to ensure the maintenance of ecosystems necessary for outdoor activities to continue.

Four out of five Europeans enjoy outdoor recreation. Positioned as a representative force across Europe, we are the backbone of an outdoor goods industry with a value of €6.2 billion.

Yet despite the risks to our sector, there is an acute understanding that the changes we see, in the places we love, are the precursors of impacts already critically affecting communities far less fortunate than our own. 

The EU’s position as a global leader in climate policy has been demonstrated through the EU Green Deal, particularly its objective to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.  We urge the next EU Parliament to look its biggest mission to date in the eye and continue without wavering from or delaying ambitious action.

We have highlighted four key areas below, where the EU can and must lead the way in a just transition to a more sustainable future.

// Support the green energy transition
To reach the EU’s goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050, and increase the energy security of European citizens the new mandate must advance the energy transition and:
// Improve & promote low-carbon mobility
The EU must enhance, promote, and facilitate low-carbon transport options ensuring their affordability and attractiveness to all citizens. While we welcome the trajectory for zero CO² emissions from new cars by 2035 set by the European Commission, we urge the new mandate to prioritise alternatives to private transport through the following measures:
  • Implement the “polluter pays principle” and integrate it across all transport policies, ensuring a socially just taxation of environmentally harmful fuels.
  • Ring fence taxes in the transport sector and channel taxes generated from environmentally harmful fuels into the transport sector, making rail and bus travel economically feasible and appealing for all.
  • Establish medium to long-term policies that prioritise rail over aviation as the primary mode of long-distance travel for all EU citizens. This can be achieved through investment in reliable and competitive connections. Policy reviews should explore innovative solutions such as reducing or removing VAT from international train tickets.
  • Support rail networks with substantial investment in resolving bottlenecks experienced by local, national, and international rail travellers. Focus on improving existing structures and creating additional international corridors.
// Accelerate biodiversity restoration & the protection of wild places
To increase food security, reduce the impact of extreme weather events, help to secure clean water, reduce strain on public health systems, and support local economies across the EU, a focus must be placed on climate change mitigation through the protection and restoration of natural ecosystems. To adequately respond to the biodiversity crisis the EU must:
  • Ensure the final adoption of the Nature Restoration Law (NRL) before the 2024 MEP elections.
  • Uphold the target of protecting 30% of EU land and sea, as outlined in the 2030 biodiversity strategy through targeted protection of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA’s).
  • Establish significant finance flows for large-scale nature restoration which will increase the resilience and health of Europe’s natural carbon sinks, protect biodiversity and help to mitigate, and adapt to, climate change effects.
  • Ensure carbon removals from these natural sinks are counted as supplementary to emissions reduction efforts in other sectors and not employed as offsets.
  • Implement scientifically valid targets for restoring EU forest ecosystems, applicable to all forest types.
  • Implement evidence-based and legally binding targets for restoring biodiversity which are adaptable from global to local levels.
  • Ensure environmental reporting for businesses moves beyond voluntary actions, large corporations must be mandated to disclose their risks, impacts and dependencies on nature and the environment.
// End unsustainable business models & overconsumption
Initiatives to enhance the durability, repairability and sustainability of products while simultaneously addressing greenwashing put forward by the European Commission are a welcome step towards responsible production and consumption models. Products and services offered in the European Union should embody sustainability and responsibility. As allies of the outdoor industry, we urge the new executive to:
  • Increase the robustness of the proposed Green Claims directive, which addresses misleading environmental claims, by standardising product footprint evaluation using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) principle to substantiate voluntary claims.
  • Implement policies which embody a holistic approach to circularity and curtail consumption enabling the consumer to adopt responsible consumer practices.
  • Support supply chains outside the EU to facilitate the decarbonization of textile supply chains as stipulated in the Textile Strategy report and uphold labour rights across our supply chain.
  • Promote circular business models by implementing legislation to support second-hand sales, repair, and rental enabling their increased profitability and scalability.

The next EU Parliament must see an acceleration of the implementation of the European Green Deal, a just transition to a low-carbon economy and transportation system, and an increased emphasis on the restoration of nature and protection of wild places.

The impending environmental and climate catastrophe will not wait another five years for concrete action. The outdoor community calls on Europe to play its part in securing a livable planet for future generations, and the actions of the next EU parliament are key.

Signed by all POW EU chapters


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