UN Fashion Charter members applauded for urging countries to invest in renewables and for their commitment to act

UN Fashion Charter members applauded for urging countries to invest in renewables and for their commitment to act

Monday December 09, 2019

Stand.earth encourages rest of industry to follow by scaling up investments in renewable energy throughout global supply chains and transitioning off polluting coal

MADRID, SPAIN — A delegation from the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action launched a public communique to energy ministers in fashion-producing nations on Monday, December 9 during a side event at COP25, urging countries to do more to promote renewable energy and remove obstacles such as fossil fuel subsidies.

The communique focuses on incentivizing renewable energy installations at manufacturing facilities in the nations producing the majority of the fashion industry’s products — including China, Turkey, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, which are all considering significant coal expansion. 

Stand.earth is an international environmental organization that was instrumental in pushing Levi’s to make its groundbreaking climate commitment in 2018. Earlier this year, Stand.earth released a Filthy Fashion scorecard ranking the climate commitments of 45 top fashion companies who have joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, or the G7 Fashion Pact, and showing how nearly all of the companies’ pledges fail to reach the level of emissions reduction needed to align with the UN Paris Agreement’s pathway to 1.5°C degrees of warming and avert the worst consequences of climate change.

In response to today’s announcement, Stand.earth said the communique was on the right track, and urged more fashion companies to follow suit with meaningful climate action.

“We applaud the UN fashion charter’s work to incentivize renewable energy in nations where coal-fired power is the standard method of powering mills and factories, and we hope to see its signatories get to work right away in transitioning their global supply chains off dirty fossil fuels,” said Liz McDowell, Filthy Fashion Campaign Director at Stand.earth. “The world is literally on fire — there’s no time to wait.” 

“The fashion industry is moving in the right direction to reverse its massive climate pollution, and we look forward to learning which brands step up next to develop specific targets and action plans to keep warming below 1.5°C,” said Maya Rommwatt, Climate Campaigner at Stand.earth. “As the world’s fourth largest polluter on the planet, the fashion industry has an enormous responsibility to clean up its emissions, and the creative ability and consumer demand to rapidly transform the sector. Right now a number of brands including Disney, Primark, Louis Vuitton, Macy’s, and Nordstrom – and even ‘green’ brands like REI and LL Bean – are completely failing to take any meaningful climate action in their supply chains.”

More than 80 companies have signed the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action — including Levi’s, Kering, Nike, Gap, and H&M. The signatories are committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through their global supply chains by 30 percent by 2030, and committing to not installing new sources of coal-fired heat or power generation in tier 1 and tier 2 factories and mills by 2025.

BACKGROUND

In December 2017, Stand.earth launched its “Too Dirty to Wear” campaign calling on denim giant Levi’s to clean up the climate pollution in its supply chain. In April 2018, Stand.earth released its “Too Deadly to Wear” report, detailing the fashion industry’s and Levi's outsized role in the deadly impacts of climate change and air pollution across the globe. In July 2018, Levi’s made a groundbreaking climate commitment to slash emissions in its global supply chain by 2025, meeting Stand.earth’s demands.

In October 2018, the UN launched the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action at COP24, and in August 2019, the G7 Fashion Pact formed at the G7 summit in France. 

In October 2019, Stand.earth released its “Filthy Fashion Scorecard”, an investigative report ranking the climate commitments of 45 top fashion companies. The report reveals only two companies — Levi’s and American Eagle — have made climate commitments to meet the UN Paris Agreement’s pathway to 1.5°C degrees of warming to avert the worst consequences of climate change, and that many top companies lack key commitments despite their participation in the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action or the G7 Fashion Pact.

Stand.earth is calling for fashion industry commitments that adequately address the scale of the climate change challenge at hand by making meaningful climate commitments through their global supply chains that include:

  • 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 in all owned and operated facilities (Scope 1 and 2)
  • 40% or higher absolute reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 in the full supply chain (Scope 3)
  • Transition to renewable energy, with a minimum of 50% of energy sourced through renewables by 2035
  • Long-term carbon emission reductions of at least 66% by 2050 for the entire supply chain

Commitments should avoid false or partial solutions that:

  • Fail to encompass full supply chains. While companies’ commitments to reduce the carbon pollution in their owned and operated facilities (scope 1 and 2) is a good first step, any commitment that does not address the full supply chain (scope 3) would fail to address the vast majority of the fashion industry’s climate pollution.
  • Set faulty targets around reducing emissions levels per clothing unit or per sales volume, or plan to meet targets through carbon offsets. Only direct, absolute climate emission reductions ultimately guarantee less climate pollution in the atmosphere.
  • Place unwarranted hope in the use of only recycled fibers or a “circular economy” approach. Although adopting low-carbon materials such as organic cotton or recycled polyester will be essential for companies to meet their climate commitments, these actions alone will not easily offer the level of savings in climate pollution needed.
  • Shift the burden of action to customers, hoping they adopt less polluting laundering practices.
  • Switch from coal to another climate-harmful fuel, like wood-based biomass (which involves cutting down forests for fuel) or LNG / natural gas.

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Media contacts: 

Virginia Cleaveland, media@stand.earth, +1 778 984 3994 in Canada or +1 510 858 9902 in US (PST)
David Walsh, dave@coldreality.org, +34 691826764 (CET)