Circular Economy

Fashion labels commit to net zero emissions for industry

During the UN’s big COP24 climate summit in Poland, fashion industry leaders, including several well-known apparel brands, have joined the newly launched UN Climate Change’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Change, which envisions the industry achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The major global supply-chain charter for climate action in the fashion industry has been launched in a bid to collectively address the climate impact of the fashion sector across its entire value-chain.

Aligned with the Paris Agreement, the 43 signatories represent fashion brands, retailers, supplier organisations and others. They include Adidas, Burberry, Esprit, Guess, Gap, Hugo Boss, H&M Group, Inditex, Kering, Levi Strauss & Co., Puma, PVH Corp. and Target.

Membership organisations Business for Social Responsibility, Sustainable Apparel Coalition, China National Textile and Apparel Council, Outdoor Industry Association, and Textile Exchange also joined the charter, as did global logistics company Maersk and the non-profit organisation WWF International.

“The charter, which is open for other companies and organisations to join, recognises the crucial role that fashion plays on both sides of the climate equation, as a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and as a sector with multiple opportunities to reduce emissions, while contributing to sustainable development,” the UN Climate Change said.

Signatories commit to implementing or supporting 16 principles and targets that will be developed collectively through working groups convened by the UN Climate Change early next year.

An initial target is to reduce aggregate greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. The charter members also agreed to establish concrete measures like phasing out coal-fired boilers from their own companies and direct suppliers by 2025.

The global fashion business is a massive industrial source of greenhouse gases. Textile production released 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2015 – equal to the emissions of about 300 coal-fired power plants in one year, or more than double Australia’s annual emissions.

The figure is going up fast, and in March this year, the UN described the practice of churning out large volumes of cheap, disposable clothing as an “environmental and social emergency”. The UN added that it is only going to get worse as growing middle-classes in countries such as China and India begin buying more clothes.