Nov 11, 2022
by Karl Smith
Emissions From Fashion Are Still Going in the Wrong Direction
by Karl Smith
Nov 11, 2022

Despite a re-up of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, signed just last year at the Cop26 summit, a new report from suggests that – instead of lowering those emissions – a large proportion of the charter’s signatories actually increased their output in 2022.

It isn’t in our nature here to lead with doom and gloom – we’re not about scoffing at even the most incremental of progress in a precarious situation where small changes can make huge differences. But, with a goal of Net Zero by 2050 – and a pledge of 55% reduction on 2018’s numbers in just eight years time, by 2030 – it’s fair to say that things aren’t looking good.

Of course, there have been gains made – there has been progress in terms of circularity and toward more sustainable modes of manufacturing and supply. But, presently, these concessions just aren’t enough to offset backward maneuvers elsewhere. A fact which no doubt frustrates those who are more serious about their ambitions when it comes to the environment.

A lull during the two peak years of Covid and a huge uptick in resale looked promising, but – at least with regard to the former – it seems like old habits die hard. Which is a bleak but, unfortunately, more than appropriate idiom when all the evidence suggests that, despite its esteemed and powerful signatories, the charter is well off-track to meet the 1.5-degree warming target.

Still, while it doesn’t pay to ignore the gravity of the situation, nihilism isn’t the answer. At least for as long as there is still an answer. And, to that end, there are positive signals to temper the warning signs: VF Corporation, for example – which counts household names like Vans, Supreme, and Dickies amongst its labels – is rightly singled out, along with Levi’s, for having their emissions on a downward slope.

Elsewhere, Kering – which owns, among other notable bywords for high fashion, both Gucci and Balenciaga – maintains its commitment to the “gradual phase-out of fossil fuels,” while the Group’s chief sustainability officer, Marie-Claire Daveu, pledged to bring the “creative” mode of reporting that’s often used for sustainability into alignment with the more rigorous practices used for financials.

“If climate action is a catwalk, most of these brands are still looking for the dressing room,” starts Rachel Kitchin, Corporate Climate Campaigner for The data is clear, the leading fashion brands need to step up and do more to lower their carbon emissions. At COP26 all of these brands increased their commitment under the UN Fashion Charter, promising to halve their emissions by 2030. Yet despite some small signs of progress, most aren’t just failing, they’re actually getting worse. These findings make it worryingly clear that those brands aren’t acting to decarbonize their supply chains, where the vast majority of climate-harming emissions come from.”

Basically, as is so often the case when it comes to fashion and the Climate Emergency, there’s good, there’s bad, and there’s ugly. There’s also a lot of crossover between them.

Photo: Markus Spiske