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New report reveals the fashion industry increased its emissions in 2022

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Fashion |Report

Image: Unsplash
On the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), which starts on Sunday and this year is held in Egypt, a shocking new report reveals the fashion industry is lagging on its goals to reduce emissions by 2030.

Data from Stand.earth’s 2022 Fashion Supply Chain Emissions Report shows this has been a year of increased emissions despite the very public commitments and promises by fashion companies to reduce carbon output from previous years.

Fashion is a major global polluter

The fashion industry is currently responsible for approximately 5–8 percent of annual climate emissions, with some signatories to the climate accord failing to reduce the emissions deadline of 2030 if changes are not made soon.

Stand.earth assessed ten fashion companies, including American Eagle Outfitters, Fast Retailing, Gap Inc., H&M, Inditex, Kering, Lululemon, Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, and VF Corp. Of the ten, only Levi’s is on track reduce its supply chain emissions by 55 percent compared with 2018 levels, in line with keeping warming below 1.5C. At the opposite end, Lululemon has increased its output by 60 percent over 2021.

“If climate action is a catwalk, most of these brands are still looking for the dressing room. The data is clear, the leading fashion brands need to step up and do more to lower their carbon emissions."

Rachel Kitchin, Corporate Climate Campaigner for Stand.earth

"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,” Ms Kitchin continued. “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.”

Key Findings:

Fashion brands are still off track to meet the 1.5-degree emissions pathway, and most are still going in the wrong direction. Two of the brands, Nike and Inditex (Zara), reported manufacturing emissions of close to 10 million tons of CO2e—the equivalent of more than 2 million gas-powered cars on the road per company.

While many brands showed a ‘Covid dip’ in emissions in 2020, eight out of ten brands’ supply chain emissions climbed again in 2021, putting them further off-track to meeting their emissions goals. While COP26 led to some interesting discussions about digital ID's that track a garment's production history and curbing excess manufacturing, most fashion conglomerates in 2022 have operated with a 'business as usual' attitude.

“Fossil fuels have no place in a rapidly warming world, and certainly no place in our closets,” Gary Cook, Corporate Campaign Director for Stand.earth said. “Fashion brands must move to rapidly decarbonize their manufacturing by committing to 100 percent renewable energy for their supply chains, and phasing out fossil fuels as a source of energy, fabric and fuel.”

The disconnect in sustainability transparency

Lululemon, in its 2021 sustainability impact summary, said it “met its science-based target to achieve a 60 percent absolute reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in all owned and operated facilities.” It failed to mention, however, that the majority of its factories remain reliant on coal and other fossil fuels, and the company is yet to commit to renewable energies, like the H&M Group, which, by comparison, has said it will phase out onsite coal by 2025 and transition its supply chain to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

The fashion industry needs to adopt transparency measures as current annual reporting and sustainability updates are opaque. Quantifiable data should be provided that inform whether companies are on track to meet targets while reducing and ending reliance on fossil fuels.

Article source: Stand.Earth report 'Major Fashion Brands Increase Emissions in 2022'

Sustainable Fashion