What the fashion industry is saying about COP26

What the fashion industry is saying about COP26

In the fashion industry, emissions are currently on track to grow more than 50 percent by 2030, according to estimates in a new report from the Apparel Impact Institute and World Resources Institute.

“A lot of our industry is so desperately wanting to be relevant and fashionable and connect with Generation X, Y, Z, you know, and it’s the consumer, the next generation of consumer isn’t going to stand for it,” said designer Stella McCartney, a long-time advocate for a more sustainable fashion industryl and advisor on the topic to LVMH, on a call from Glasgow. “The more and more they learn about the dirty habits of the fashion industry, the more and more they’re just not going to stand for it.”

So what else have the key publications said about fashion and COP26.

Business of Fashion. The summit exposed the scale and scope of the challenges still ahead. 

It’s a looming challenge for the fashion industry, which studies estimate is responsible for between 2 and 10 percent of global emissions and has made limited progress in tackling its impact so far. 

On fashion’s side, the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action upgraded the commitment of its 130 signatory brands to drastically slash emissions by the end of the decade to align with a 1.5C pathway. Under the refreshed charter, signatories must pledge to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050 and either halve their emissions by 2030 or set science-based targets by the end of 2023. Previously, the charter called on signatories to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

That doesn’t mean change will be even or swift. For fashion, achieving the ambitions laid out at COP will require a wholesale transformation of the way the industry operates.

It would likely require that by the end of the decade, big fashion brands run on renewable energy, coal is eliminated from powering their supply chains and clothes are made from materials that have a net positive impact on the planet and can be recycled an infinite number of times.

Vogue Business. If the UN climate conference made anything clear, it’s that the public is desperate for sustainable change, and policymakers still lack the means to make bold policy commitments. What that means for fashion is that the sector is more on the hook for climate action than ever.

“China and India did not upgrade their commitments at COP26, and yet these are the key sourcing countries for the industry. This means that the fashion industry has the power and potential to step up and make really meaningful reductions in these countries,” says Maxine Bédat, founder of the New Standard Institute. “There will not be the progress necessary in these countries without intervention from the industries, ie fashion, that do their production there.”

The UN Fashion Charter, first launched in 2018, updated its commitments during COP26 and raised the stakes for signatory brands, which for the first time include LVMH. The renewed charter calls for companies to set science-based targets or to halve their emissions by 2030 (the earlier goal was a 30 per cent reduction). The renewed agreement also requires brands to specify within 12 months how they will achieve the new commitments; instructs them to work with their suppliers and create incentive mechanisms for reducing emissions; and sets goals for “priority” raw materials to be low climate impact — with defined criteria for what that means — by 2030.

The Financial Times.  The fashion industry — estimated to generate more greenhouse gas emissions than the UK, Germany and France combined — is turning to an open-sourced platform provided by Google to help trace its supply chain. Despite the barrage of marketing from brands and individual garments claiming to be “sustainable”, “eco-friendly” and “climate positive”, only a fraction, some 50 brands, have pledged to meet the science-based emissions reduction targets set within the UN fashion charter for climate change. Even with those pledges in place, the industry is on track to generate nearly double the amount of emissions required to align with the UN’s goal of keeping global temperatures from rising above 1.5C since pre-industrial times, according to McKinsey.

The APE says "The Fashion Industry affects 100% of the population, and has an enormous responsibility to clean up its act. e all play a huge part in making more considered choices about what to buy and where to buy it from - or do we even need it?"