Patagonia calls out corporate sector that is ‘full of s***’ on climate crisis: ‘There’s a special place in hell’

Corporations talk about sustainability but undermine it by staying away from large investments to deal with climate crisis, Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert says

Sravasti Dasgupta
Tuesday 07 December 2021 09:19

Related: Patagonia to stop offering custom corporate logos on products

Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert has called out big businesses for their alleged duplicity on the climate crisis as well as their opposition to the Biden administration’s ambitious Build Back Better Act.

“The [corporate] sector has historically been full of s***, and the sector is still full of s***,” Mr Gellert told Fast Company on Monday.

“They all say they’re all in on climate to their customers and to their employees, and the members of those two groups—and I’ve seen the strategy docs, so this isn’t rumor or innuendo—are actively seeking to undermine the current package from the Biden administration, which includes really ambitious climate commitments,” he added.

Mr Gellert, 48, who was named CEO of the California-based outdoor clothing company in September 2020, said that his focus was on the Senate vote on the Build Back Better Act, including how major corporations have reacted to it.

Last month, the House of Representatives voted to approve the $1.75 trillion (£1.3 trillion) bill. The bill includes the largest-ever investment costs for climate change with goals like bringing greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, earmarking $70 billion to upgrade the electricity grid, and $7.5 billion to build a network of electric vehicle charging stations.

It will now go to the Senate, where it faces opposition from the Republicans.

Big business like the American Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable have sharpened their attack on the bill recently. They are trying to lobby House Democrats saying the bill needs a closer budget analysis.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk too said on Monday that the bill adds to the Federal budget deficit and would end up with the government incentivising only certain businesses.

But climate experts and industry analysts alike have celebrated the Build Back Better Act—which invests billions in fighting environmental racism, handing out climate block grants, reducing pollution in ports, and funding a Civilian Climate Corps—as an important step in meeting US international commitments to maintaining a habitable climate amid global heating.

Mr Gellert said that he has no patience for corporate giants that have opposed the bill on the basis of corporate taxes. On one hand, these corporations talk about sustainability, but on the other, they undermine it by staying away from large investments to deal with climate crisis, he said. “That is a huge issue.”

“Where I come down on it is, define for me what you mean when you say ‘all in’ [on climate]. Because you’re saying that and then hiding over here, and it’s bulls***. There’s a special place in hell for people doing that. It’s the kind of thing that has to change.”

Patagonia is known for supporting progressive issues. In 2018, founder Yvon Chouinard changed the company’s mission statement to “Patagonia is in the business of saving our home planet.”

In October, the company renewed calls to major corporate firms to boycott social media giant Facebook which, it said, must “prioritise people and planet over profit”. It had first started boycotting the platform in 2020 amid concerns that it “spread hate speech and misinformation about climate change and our democracy”.

The company also announced in April this year that it would no longer put corporate logos on its apparel.

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