Sat. Nov 27th, 2021


Fashion brands like Burberry and H&M are among 130 companies that have pledged to halve their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but the broader industry will fall far short of its current track record.

The prominent brands this week lifted their target of a previous goal to reduce emissions by one third set in 2018, as part of an effort to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C since pre-industrial times under Paris -agreement.

The signatories of the updated UN fashion charter, including LVMH, Kering, Chanel, Nike, Adidas and Puma, represent only a fraction of the vast clothing and footwear industry.

The global industry accounted for about 4 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 – comparable to the combined emissions of France, Germany and the UK, according to McKinsey.

“The industry has realized the 2018 commitment is not enough,” said Achim Berg, fashion head at McKinsey. “We need to celebrate that it is moving in the right direction, but the whole industry needs to move from commitment to action.”

Brands have 12 months to submit plans on how they will reach the updated target.

Independent of the fashion charter, brands have used the COP26 summit to announce several climate-related initiatives.

Marketed as an eco-friendly and ethically-produced label, Pangaia hosted a roundtable in Glasgow to raise awareness among diminished bee populations, while boot brand Ugg launched a partnership with a shoe repair company, encouraging customers to repair their shoes (for $ 80), rather than buying a new pair.

“COP26 is a platform that can show what is possible when we bring innovators, suppliers, customers and other partners on board to find innovative solutions.” said Kim Hellström, H & M’s head of strategy on climate. “But it also shows that there is still a lot to be done to significantly reduce our industry’s footprint.”

In addition to updated commitments to reduce emissions, the charter promises to reduce the environmental impact of the use of materials such as cotton, viscose, polyester, wool and leather. The textile sector this week too called for policy change to encourage the use of “environmental preference” materials, such as organic cotton and recycled fibers.

Unless brands are working on their supply chains, “we will not get where we need to be,” said Holly Syrett, sustainability director at the nonprofit Global Fashion Agenda. Roughly 70 percent some of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions come from energy-intensive raw material production.

Syrett said the high profile of popular brands such as Nike, H&M, and luxury brand owners such as LVMH and Kering could affect industry-wide targets.

“Because of this heightened awareness and because the target has shifted, we do have a higher level of ambition and that will help us unlock the investment that is needed,” Syrett said.

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