New report gives fashion industry’s climate commitments failing grades

October 17, 2019 research shows most companies don’t meet pollution reduction standards called for by UN Paris Agreement

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — A new investigative report released by international environmental organization released today ranks the fashion industry’s climate commitments and shows how the sustainability and climate pledges from top fashion companies fail to meet the climate pollution reduction standards called for by the U.N. Paris Agreement — because they lack key commitments to transition factories and other parts of their global supply chains away from coal and other fossil fuels and on to renewable energy.

The report, titled “Filthy Fashion Climate Scorecard,” ranks the climate commitments of 45 top fashion companies who have joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, or the G7 Fashion Pact — including Levi’s, American Eagle, Burberry, H&M and Gap. The report shows that despite making commitments to be industry leaders by joining one or more of these global initiatives, nearly all of the companies’ pledges fail to reach the level of emissions reduction needed to align with the UN Paris Agreement’s pathway to 1.5°C degrees of warming and avert the worst consequences of climate change.

The report reveals only two major fashion companies — Levi Strauss & Co. and American Eagle Outfitters — have announced climate commitments in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target.

“A handful of companies, including Levi’s, Burberry, the Gap, H&M, and American Eagle are taking meaningful strides to shift their global supply chains off dirty fossil fuels. But many other companies are relying on false solutions to meet their climate commitments – easy measures that look good on paper but fail to tackle carbon pollution in the real world. While the industry’s progress is encouraging, signing onto one of these initiatives doesn’t guarantee that a company will take climate action in line with the scale of emissions reductions needed to keep the world below a dangerous level of warming,” said Liz McDowell, Filthy Fashion Campaign Director at 

Of the rest of the companies ranked in the scorecard, the report reveals 43 companies have made climate commitments that put the world on a path to 2°C or more of warming, which would lead to far more severe climate impacts than if warming is kept to 1.5°C. A 2°C world will see more deadly heat events, the disappearance of the world’s coral reefs, higher sea level rise, more freshwater scarcity, and more frequent droughts. Of those 43 companies, 17 have made little to no climate commitments, which would put the world on a path to climate catastrophe, with 3 or more degrees of warming.


If the fashion industry was a country, it would be the fourth largest polluter on the planet. This multi-billion dollar sector of the economy is responsible for a massive 8.1% of the world’s total carbon emissions – and the percentage is expected to dramatically increase. 

In order to tackle global climate change and keep the world below a catastrophic level of warming, major companies must lead the way in transforming the entire fashion industry, including a key commitment to transform factories in global supply chains away from coal and other fossil fuels and on to renewable energy. This is especially important in countries like China, Turkey, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, which are all considering significant coal expansion.

“The vast majority of the fashion industry’s climate pollution is hiding in global supply chains. Right now, most of the fashion industry’s factories are powered by coal, one of the dirtiest fuels on earth. Not only is coal a huge contributor to climate change, but the toxic smog belched out by coal-powered factories impacts the health of millions of people every year, especially those living in the world’s poorest countries. Because of their giant energy bills, the world’s leading fashion companies hold significant responsibility for helping to catalyze major shifts to renewable energy across the globe. Not only is this their responsibility – it is an urgent imperative,” said McDowell.


All 45 fashion companies in the report were graded using the following criteria:

  • Concrete commitments to reduce direct emissions from owned and controlled operations including head offices and retail stores. Full points were given for a target of 90% reductions by 2025.
  • Concrete commitments to power these facilities with renewable energy. Full points were given for a target of 50% renewable energy by 2035.
  • Concrete commitments to cut absolute greenhouse gas emissions through companies’ global supply chains, including factories and mills, in line with the UN Paris Agreement pathway to 1.5°C warming. Full points were given for a commitment to cut supply chain emissions by 40% by 2025 and 66% by 2050. 
  • Extra credit was given for: supplier incentives to help factories and mills improve energy efficiency and transition to renewable energy; goals to power global supply chains with at least 50% renewable energy by 2035; and low-carbon material sourcing programs.

Before releasing the report, actively engaged companies in dialogue regarding their sustainability policies, current carbon emissions, and future goals. All of the companies in the report were shown a draft grade and given the opportunity to share their most current commitments and active emissions reduction work.

The companies ranked in the report are: Adidas, Aldo, American Eagle, Amer Sport brands Arcteryx and Salomon, ASICS, Burberry, Columbia, C&A, Disney, Eileen Fisher, Esprit, Ganni, Gant, Gap, Guess, Hanes, H&M, Inditex (Zara), JCPenny, Kering group (Gucci, Yves St Laurent, Stella McCartney), Land’s End, Levi’s, LL Bean, Lululemon, LVMH (Dior, Fendi), Macy’s, Mammut, Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC), M&S, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto, Patagonia, Pentland, Primark, Puma, PVH (Calvin Klein, Hilfiger), Recreational Equipment Inc (REI), SkunkFunk, Target, Under Armour, VF Corp (The North Face, Timberland), and Walmart. 


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