UN fashion charter a symbolic first step, but growing climate crisis makes it imperative for brands to do more
December 10, 2018
Fashion industry must go beyond charter’s baseline for emissions reductions, pledge long-term reductions of at least 66% by 2050 for the entire supply chain
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In partnership with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, major fashion brands formally launched a fashion industry charter to tackle climate change today at the United Nations COP24 meeting in Poland, in a symbolic first step for an industry attempting to rein in its growing contributions to climate change.
International environmental organization Stand.earth calls the collaborative effort a symbolic first step for the many fashion brands who have yet to make climate commitments of their own, but says it is imperative for brands to seek a higher level of ambition by going beyond the baseline actions outlined in the charter, while taking caution to avoid false solutions that fail to encompass emissions reductions in the entire supply chain or create other environmental problems.
“Our looming climate crisis makes it imperative that fashion brands joining the new fashion industry charter see the actions outlined in this charter as a floor, not a ceiling. Brands absolutely must go beyond the charter’s baseline standard for emissions reductions in order to adequately address the scale of the climate change challenge at hand,” said Kristina Flores, Climate Campaigner at Stand.earth.
Two concrete actions outlined in the charter include committing to 30 percent aggregate greenhouse gas emissions reductions in scope 1, 2, and 3 by 2030 (against a 2015 baseline), and committing to not installing new sources of coal-fired heat or power generation by 2025 (in tier 1 and tier 2 factories and mills).
“This charter recognizes what true climate leadership looks like from the fashion industry — addressing carbon emissions in not just stores and headquarters, but throughout the entire supply chain. But at the same time, a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 is unambitious, and a pledge to stop installing new sources of coal-fired heat or power plants while ignoring the climate pollution impacts from ongoing coal-fired operations is reckless,” said Flores.
Earlier this year, Levi Strauss & Co set an apparel industry standard by pledging to reduce 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in its entire supply chain by 2025. Leading companies like Mars and Apple have made long-term climate commitments that include greenhouse gas emissions reductions of at least 66% by 2050 for the entire supply chain.
“The fashion industry could be responsible for a quarter of the world’s carbon emissions by 2050. In order to adequately rein in these predicted massive increases and help the industry meet the world’s goal of a 1.5 degree future, brands must look beyond the charter’s baseline toward the leadership pledge set by Levi’s earlier this year, and even further to long-term emissions reductions by 2050,” said Flores.
Fashion brands that joined the charter include: adidas, Aquitex, Arcteryx, Burberry Limited, Esprit, Guess, Gap Inc., H&M Group, Hakro Gmbh., Hugo Boss, Inditex, Kering Group, Lenzing AG, Levi Strauss & Co., Mammut Sports Group AG, Mantis World, Maersk, Otto Group, Pidigi S.P.A, PUMA SE, re:newcell, Schoeller Textiles AG, Peak Performance, PVH Corp., Salomon, Skunkfunk, SLN Textil, Stella McCartney, Sympatex Technologies, Target and Tropic Knits Group.
Stand.earth launched its “Too Dirty to Wear” campaign against Levi’s in December 2017, calling on the company to clean up the climate pollution throughout its supply chain. In April 2018, the group released its “Too Deadly to Wear” report, detailing the fashion industry’s and Levi’s outsized role in the deadly impacts of climate change and air pollution across the globe.
The campaign is calling for fashion industry commitments that adequately address the scale of the climate change challenge at hand:
- 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2025 in all owned and operated facilities (Scope 1 and 2)
- 40% or higher absolute reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 in the full supply chain (Scope 3)
- Transition to renewable energy, with a minimum of 50% of energy sourced through renewables by 2035
- Long-term carbon emission reduction of at least 66% by 2050 for the entire supply chain
Commitments should avoid false or partial solutions that:
- Fail to encompass full supply chains.
- Set faulty targets around reducing emissions levels per clothing unit or per sales volume. Only absolute climate emission reductions ultimately guarantee less climate pollution in the atmosphere.
- Place unwarranted hope in the use of only recycled fibers or a “circular economy” approach, as it does not easily offer the level of savings in climate pollution needed.
- Shift the burden of action to its customers, hoping they adopt less polluting laundering practices.
- Fail to alleviate local environmental and health impacts of its global operations through utilizing “renewable energy credits” instead of investing in local renewable energy production.