Shift Cycling Culture: a wake-up call to the cycling industry.
18.02.2022 | Sustainability
The "Letter to industry for climate action" is an urgent appeal to the entire cycling sector. Over 50 CEOs have already expressed their commitment to climate-friendly and sustainable business practices in this open letter from the Shift Cycling Culture initiative. Riese & Müller is one of the initiators and founding signatories of this voluntary commitment, which came into being around the time of the 2021 World Climate Summit. In our podcast, we talked to Jane Dennyson, one of the directors of Shift Cycling Culture, about the beginnings, objectives and successes of this not-for-profit organisation.
The history of the Shift Cycling Culture initiative only goes back a few years. It all began in 2018, when three passionate cyclists, Lian van Leeuwen, Erik Bronsvoort and Jane Dennyson, resolved to fundamentally transform the cycling world. They passionately love their sport. But they were increasingly critical of the industry behind it, which has neglected its environmental responsibilities for too long:
"Behind a sport like cycling, which emits no emissions and has only a positive impact, there’s a huge industry which – sadly – has a very serious negative impact. And then there is the consumerism that goes with it: everything always has to be bigger and faster and lighter and newer. Lian wanted to change that," explains Jane.
Inspired by the ideas of the circular economy, the three organised gear swapping parties. They were keen to use, repair, swap and share cycling gear for as long as possible. But the Covid pandemic brought the parties to an abrupt end.
» Shift is the systemic movement we need, and it’s not about to happen overnight. We’re not about pointing the finger and blaming others. It's all about inspiring positive action in the right direction. «
Cycling Industry Climate Commitment
In retrospect, the subsequent switch to virtual meetups turned out to be a stroke of good luck. The Shift Industry Meetups met with a huge response. The three quickly realised that they had hit a nerve. In these virtual meetings with CEOs, cyclists, scientists and journalists, it became clear that many companies in the cycling industry did not yet have a high-priority strategic objective in place to really push ahead with sustainable production processes.
Following eight months of intense collaboration with twelve CEOs from the cycling industry, the CEO Letter to the industry was published. This open letter appeals to the sense of responsibility of decision-makers in the industry and urges them to join the movement. One of the jointly formulated goals and voluntary commitments is to measure and publish their companies' CO2 emissions. As the next step, greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by at least 55 percent by 2030. Furthermore, each signatory is to get in touch with suppliers and partners and ask them to commit to the objectives of the Climate Commitment as well.
"If you publish a letter to the cycling industry and its suppliers, asking every one of them to calculate their impact on the environment and draw up and publish a plan to reduce that impact, the overall effects will be enormous. We’ve invited CEOs from different companies to commit to this as founding signatories, among them Riese & Müller. Managing Director Sandra was very much involved in all of this and was hugely supportive. Today, we have 53 signatories from all over the world. It’s gaining momentum," says Jane.
» We’ve resolved to move with the times and demonstrate that we can rethink the economy. Our 'Letter to industry for climate action' sends out an important signal to influence the cycling industry and urge them to join us in pursuing our goals. «
We’ve got the ball rolling. And Jane Dennyson’s team helped to give it a large push. As they see it, their movement is still at the beginning of a long journey. They would like to increase the number of signatories to at least 150 this year and also work closely with CEOs in future so that they can support them in meeting the commitments they have signed up to.
And if it all continues to go this well? Perhaps, in the near future, Shift Cycling Culture will cease to exist: "We put together a strategy for Shift and our end goal is that Shift will no longer need to exist in a few years’ time. We’re just trying to get the movement going, and hope that the solution will take over," Jane sums up.
Listen to the entire conversation with Jane Dennyson in our podcast Riese & Müller Unplugged.
The open letter was drafted in late 2021 at the cycling industry’s Shift Industry Meetup around the time of the World Climate Summit in Glasgow, and has already been signed by numerous CEOs in the sector. It aims to inspire as many companies, suppliers and network organisations as possible to get actively involved in climate protection and take the cycling industry in a sustainable direction. The signatory companies commit to publishing their CO2 emissions in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol by 2023, and to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030.