Climate change is taking place at an alarming rate, with widespread implications beyond the obvious planetary consequences, impacting everything from the economy to human health.
Over the coming weeks we will be focusing specifically on the role of the fashion industry in contributing to climate change, acknowledging the problems whilst sharing all-encompassing solutions.
As we face this growing climate emergency, every consecutive Earth Day since its inception in 1970, evokes increased urgency as well as determination.
Believed to be one of the globes most prominent days of observance, amassing the solidarity and action of some one billion people annually1, today is a poignant day to reflect upon the changes people can apply to tackle the undeniable challenges that lie ahead.
The theme this year is “Restore Our Earth”, encouraging people to look not only towards the actions they can implement going forward, but also considering the measures they can take to actively repair the ecosystems that comprise our planet.
Global Fashion Agenda strives to publish thought-leadership that mobilises and guides the fashion industry to take bold action on sustainability. Our Fashion on Climate report, created with our Strategic Knowledge Partner, McKinsey & Company, concluded that the onus is on fashion leaders to move from a moderate decarbonisation trajectory to a significantly more ambitious one.2
Estimates suggest we have only nine years to avert the effects of climate change that beholds unprecedented challenges for our planet and its inhabitants, making the need to act imperative.3
The role of the fashion industry
The fashion industry is one of the world’s most resource intensive industries. Research shows that the global fashion industry produced around 2.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2018, equalling 4% of the global total, the equivalent of combined annual GHG emissions from France, Germany and the United Kingdom.2
According to estimates, if the industry stays on its current trajectory, emissions from textile production will rise by more than 60% by 2030.4 Moreover, if we continue on our current path, we will miss our 2030 emissions reduction targets by 50%.2
Watch the Fashion on Climate explainer video.
So how does the fashion industry take on the challenge of such significant CO2 reductions?
The industry must embrace accelerated abatement to reduce annual emissions to approximately 1.1 billion tonnes, around half of today’s figure. Challenging as this may sound, it is promising to note that 55% of these efforts will actually save money for the industry.2
In the fashion value cycle, a diverse range of actors and intermediaries can play an active role in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change. Specifically, 61% of the accelerated abatement potential lies with suppliers and producers in the upstream production, 21% within brands and retailers’ own operations and 18% with consumers relating to the usage and end-of-use of garments.2
Everyone has a role to play in the industry, and there are a broad range of solutions to consider moving forwards.
The Fashion on Climate report is an essential resource for the fashion industry as it outlines areas in which players can focus their efforts to meet climate targets.
Read the full report here, which delves into everything from circular business models and decarbonised material production, to the improved packaging of products and the use of sustainable transport.
To accompany this, our Fashion CEO Agenda 2021, is launching on 12 May 2021 with a free event, that will present a guide to what every fashion leader needs to prioritise to future proof their company. The publication will guide fashion leaders with a framework of five priorities that businesses should focus on in order to secure prosperity for people and communities while working within planetary boundaries.
Read the programme and register for the event here.
1. EarthDay.org (2021). Earth Day 2021.
2. Global Fashion Agenda (2020). Fashion on Climate.
3. United Nations (2019). Only 11 Years Left to Prevent Irreversible Damage from Climate Change, Speakers Warn during General Assembly High-Level Meeting.
4. United Nations Climate Change (2018). Fashion Industry, UN Pursue Climate Action for Sustainable Development.