- Don-Alvin Adegeest |
This week, as the world's leaders gathered in Paris to discuss and tackle climate change, the impact of global warming on the fashion industry should not be underestimated.
In numbers, the apparel industry accounts for 10 percent of global carbon emissions, with more than 150 billion garments produced every year, according to Zady, a fashion website that seeks to encourage consumers to buy fewer, higher-quality garments produced in a more sustainable way.
Cotton is the largest single source of fibre for the fashion industry
The world’s resources cannot keep up with the increasing demand for throw-away fashion. Cotton, for example, the largest single source of fibre for global apparel, is responsible for 2.6 percent of the global water use. However, a gap already exists between water supply and demand. If we do nothing to correct this imbalance, by 2030 demand for water will exceed supply by 40 percent.
That is why the chief executives of seven top clothing companies, including Hennes & Mauritz and Gap, are calling on governments to agree a strong climate change deal, saying they fear global warming will drive up their costs.
"We come together to acknowledge that climate change is harming the world in which we operate," read the joint declaration, also signed by heads of Levi Strauss, Timberland-owner VF Corp, Eileen Fisher and Burton Snowboards.
"Climate change mitigation and technological innovation are vital to the health and well-being of those who make and use our products, as well as to the future supply of materials needed to make those materials," they added.
Fashion companies worry climate change will drive up costs
The seven companies are among the world's top users of cotton and the executives said they were concerned climate warming could drive up costs by harming cotton production.
Faced with criticism the fashion industry helps fuel a wasteful throwaway culture, companies such as H&M and adidas have been trying to improve their environmental credentials by launching products made from recycled materials. What they don't tell us, is that it takes about 20,000 litres of water to make a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans, and there is nothing sustainable about these measures.
The seven executives said they hoped the Paris Global Summit deal would ensure net zero greenhouse gas emissions well before the end of the century as well as include assurances that national climate commitments are strengthened every five years, starting in 2020.
The declaration included no new commitments from the companies themselves on how they plan to help reach those aims, noted WGSN.