New Fashion Scorecard shows two-thirds of industry chooses fossil fuel dependence, perpetuating the global climate crisis
March 22, 2023
SAN FRANCISCO (Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone Lands) — A new scorecard released today by environmental advocacy group Stand.earth finds that major fashion companies continue to rely on fossil fuels to manufacture their products and are failing to decarbonize their supply chains.
Fashion is a multi-trillion dollar industry responsible for producing up to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) — generating more GHGs than all international flights and maritime shipping combined — and those emissions are expected to drastically increase by 2030.
The industry’s manufacturing processes disproportionately rely on coal and other fossil fuels, undermining climate stability while also causing a devastating impact on the health of supply chain workers and their communities. A 2021 Harvard University study found that one in five deaths globally can be linked to air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
The 2023 Fossil-Free Fashion Scorecard reveals that fashion companies are not doing enough to move from climate commitments to actions at the scale desperately needed. The report was released on the heels of a new IPCC report that finds “rapid, deep and immediate” emissions reductions are critical “in this decade,” reinforcing a growing demand for corporations to act on the climate emergency.
“Many fashion companies pledge to become more environmentally friendly, but the scorecard shows their messaging around sustainability is a marketing ploy aimed at veiling their addiction to fossil fuels. From high-end luxury brands like Louis Vuitton earning a D-, to fast fashion and casual brands like Zara and Gap earning a D+, this report underscores that no matter the price printed on the tag, people and the planet are left to pay the true costs. These big players in the fashion industry must show leadership by rapidly phasing out fossil fuels to protect public health and the climate,” said Rachel Kitchin, Corporate Climate Campaigner at Stand.earth.
The scorecard found an industry with more commitments to act, but still only a few pockets of progress toward supply chain decarbonization. Two-thirds of the total 43 companies assessed received an overall grade within the F or D range (D- to D+). One-third of companies assessed received an overall grade within the C range (C- to C+). Only one company (H&M) received a grade of B-. No company received a grade of A, despite the targeted emissions cut of 55% being only seven years away (2030).
Fashion companies transitioning their manufacturing to renewable energy is the most important change that brands can make to their supply chains to cut emissions. However, only five brands (ASICS, PUMA, Allbirds, Kering, H&M) have committed to switching some or all of their production to clean energy.
“Failure by brands to support the transition to renewables, while at the same time increasing energy consumption, will further entrench fossil fuel infrastructure in the Global South where their supply chains are focused, and lock in harmful health and climate impacts for decades to come. Brands need to transition to renewable energy in their supply chains, and be more transparent about who their suppliers are and where they are located. The fashion industry has a responsibility to show progress engaging with suppliers to support a just energy transition, including through financing and training, and advocating to governments to meet the increased demand for renewable energy,” said Seema Joshi, Fashion & IT Campaign Director at Stand.earth.
Despite the growing urgency for dramatic absolute emissions reduction across all industries and geographies, the sector maintains close ties to the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuels enter the supply chain through synthetic fibers made from oil and fracked gas, the ongoing practice of burning coal for heat at garment factories, fashion manufacturers’ continued reliance on fossil fuels for electricity, and the heavy fuels required to transport their goods. Companies were assessed on their (1) climate commitments and transparency; (2) renewable energy and energy-efficient manufacturing, (3) renewable energy advocacy; (4) low-carbon and longer lasting materials; (5) and greener shipping.
The new Fossil-Free Fashion Scorecard builds on the previous scorecard by assessing the progress made by 43 global apparel and footwear companies to reduce their carbon footprints in line with a 1.5 degrees Celsius emissions pathway. It provides an updated benchmark for major fast fashion, athletic, outdoor, retailer, luxury, and footwear companies on key aspects of supply chain decarbonization.
Shane Reese, Corporate Campaigns Media Director, email@example.com, +1 919 339 3785 (Eastern Time)