Fashion giants vow to end contributions to global warming and ocean plastic pollution

A coalition of 32 big-name fashion firms including H&M Group, Inditex and Nike have signed a new industry commitment targeting zero climate change impact by mid-century.

Meeting the aims of the Pact will require signatories to consider changing their business models and supply chain approaches. Image: Kering

Meeting the aims of the Pact will require signatories to consider changing their business models and supply chain approaches. Image: Kering

Called the Fashion Pact and launched ahead of this weekend’s G7 summit in Biarritz, the commitment binds signatories to set science-based emissions reduction targets in line with a 1.5C trajectory – which, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will require most organisations to reach net-zero carbon status by 2050.

Through signing the Pact, fashion houses also commit to restore natural habitats and protect species throughout their supply chains, in line with the upcoming science-based targets on biodiversity.

Additional pledges set out in the Pact are a 2030 ban on all single-use plastics across business-to-business and consumer-facing products and services; the implementation of bi-annual external audits on sustainable sourcing and an ongoing declaration to support new technologies aimed at minimising waterborne microplastic pollution.

“We need to show that we can build coalitions of committed public and private leaders that can make a difference by scaling new solutions and massively redirecting investment flows towards low-carbon, low-biodiversity impacts and resilient development,” the Pact states.

“Multi-sectorial initiatives will be key to get results in order to minimize the environmental impacts fashion and textiles have across oceans, climate and biodiversity.”

The Pact’s signatories are: Adidas, Bestseller, Burberry, Capri, Carrefour, Chanel, Ermenegildo Zegna, Everybody & Everyone, Fashion3, Fung Group, Galeries Lafayette, Gap, Giorgio Armani, H&M Group, Hermes, Inditex, Karl Lagerfield, Kering, La Redoute, MatchesFashion.com, Moncler, Nike, Nordstrom, Prada, Puma, PVH Corp, Ralph Lauren, Ruyi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Selfridges, Stella McCartney and Tapestry.

Representatives from each of these companies will today (23 August) meet French President Emmanuel Macron, who urged Kering’s chief executive Francois-Henri Pinault to create the Pact earlier this year.

“Private companies, working alongside nation-states, have an essential role to play in protecting the planet,” Pinault said.

“With the Fashion Pact, some leading players in the fashion and textile sector are joining forces for the first time to launch an unprecedented movement.”

Pinault added that the Pact is a “collective endeavour by nature” and will remain open to any company with the desire to help “to fundamentally transform the practices of the fashion and textile industry to meet the environmental challenges of our century”. Over time, the Pact is aiming to cover one-fifth of the global industry.

"We know that one company cannot solve the environmental challenges facing our planet alone and we believe in the power of collaboration to drive real change," Burberry's chief executive Marco Gobbetti commented. 

"The objectives of the Fashion Pact strongly align with our own work in this area over the past decade and we are looking forward to working with the other signatories to help transform our industry, support our communities and protect the environment”. 

Pulling their socks up

The global fashion sector is believed to employ more than one in ten working-age people in the world and is, therefore, a key driver of economic growth.

But the industry also accounts for one-tenth of the world’s annual carbon emissions, 5% of global water use and is classed – alongside technology and agriculture - as one of the sectors with the highest risk of modern slavery in supply chains. Moreover, the scale of the sector has now reached a point where between 80-100 billion garments and 20 billion pairs of shoes are believed to be manufactured annually, with the equivalent of a bin lorry full of clothing being sent to landfill or incineration worldwide every minute.

In a bid to meet these large challenges with equally sizeable action, fashion brands and retailers are increasingly beginning to join collaborative initiatives as well as setting their own internal goals.

Kering, for example, uses its own natural capital metrics to take account of the “true” value of natural resources in its products. It has additionally set a science-based target in line with a 2C trajectory and 2025 goal for 100% traceability of key raw materials.

This work also extends beyond the firm’s own operations, with Kering having played a key role in the development of a new climate roadmap for the luxury sector; an online tool that allows businesses, investors and customers to track the origin of paper, wood and viscose sourced by corporates; and the UN’s charter outlining steps the global fashion sector must take to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.  The charter has been signed by 31 companies, and the climate roadmap for the luxury sector by 14.

Sarah George

 



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