According a recent report by Quantis, the apparel and footwear industry contributes 8% to the world’s greenhouse gas (GHS) emissions, which almost as much as the climate impact of the European Union.
This is why in December 2018, the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action was launched under UN Climate Change with leading brands, retailers, suppliers, and others, signing up to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 across the industry and it’s entire value chain.
Signatories to the Charter commit to 16 principles, which I have summarized below:
- A 30% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, monitoring of GHG emissions and setting of Science Based Targets
- Actively develop a decarbonization strategy
- Prioritize low-climate materials
- Pursue energy efficiency, renewable energy and not install any new coal-fired power or heat generators in Tier 1 and Tier 2 facilities
- Give preference to low-carbon logistics
- Support circular business models
- Drive awareness among end consumers about GHG impact of the use and end-of-life phase
- Partner with the finance community, policy makers and governments to catalyze scalable solutions for the entire sector, including advocating for better policies, laws and infrastructure for climate action and renewable energy.
- Communicate shared vision and have trust-building dialogue with relevant stakeholders.
- Support UN Climate Change secretariat in tracking and recognition of the progress of commitments outlined in the Charter.
While individual actions by brands and retailers have been gaining momentum, this charter will hopefully catalyze action at a collective scale and enable sharing of best practices. This Charter is also unique, because something like this doesn’t seem to exist in other industries. The 16 principles summarized above also weave together commitments around other sustainability aspects such as sustainable materials and circular business models as well.
However, since this Charter is relatively recent, it is unclear how the signatories will be held accountable for their actions. How will their sustainability progress be tracked? While goals and vision of the commitment are long-term, there should still be a way to track short-term efforts and outcomes. The charter does say that signatories will be part of working groups, meetings and calls, but doesn’t exactly say how members will be incentivized and held accountable.
The launch of this Charter must be celebrated, acknowledged and transcended to other industries. Over the next few months and years, it would be good if there is a transparent way to see how signatories are delivering on their commitments.
You can read the complete Charter here.