How The Fashion Industry Can Slow Climate Change


For decades, science and energy scientists have warned the public about the consequences of climate change, but lately, at last, the apparel industry is ready to fix environmental issues. According to McKinsey statistics, the industry accounted for 2.1 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018, which was around 4 per cent of the global total that year. The design industry is conscious that it must change how it functions.

A report entitled ‘Climate Fashion: How the fashion industry can act urgently to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions,’ co-authored by McKinsey & Company and the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), states that if the fashion sector continues its current path, the world will miss its 2030 emission reduction targets. That, unfortunately, will lead to more rapid climate change.

To achieve the targets set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and enacted through the Paris Agreement of 2015, the fashion industry would need to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 1,1 billion metric tonnes of CO2. However, the current report says that the fashion industry “is set to overshoot its target by almost twofold, with emissions of 2.1 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2030, unless it adopts additional abatement actions.”

This study examines each stakeholder’s crucial role and underlines their duty to make the fashion industry sustainable. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected both private and public decision-making by pushing sustainability to the forefront, according to McKinsey and GFA. The report also mentions that while COVID-19 has devastated most of the planet, the attention of fashion executives has turned to making their business environmentally friendly. Indeed, a recent opinion poll shows that around half of apparel executives say their agendas have been moved up by sustainability.

It is important to manage stakeholder commitments and we should give priority to reducing emissions from upstream operations as well as decarbonizing the fashion industry entirely. “Decarbonizing upstream value chain activities has the potential to drive 61 per cent of the planned 1.7 billion tonnes of accelerated reduction potential by 2030,” the report says.

For example, decarbonized material production could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 205 million metric tonnes per year, and decarbonized material processing could reduce GHG emissions by 703 million tonnes per year. Reducing waste production and manufacturing, and decarbonizing the manufacture of garments, would also help the industry ‘s efforts to become more sustainable.

Brands can become more strict about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by working to improve their material mix.  This method alone would prevent GHG emissions by 41 million metric tonnes. In addition, they could improve renewable transport use, make manufacturing more efficient, decarbonize retail activities, decrease yields and mitigate overproduction.

Consumers also have an important role to play. “Around 21 percent of accelerated abatement potential is directly related to consumer actions in the use phase and end-of-use phase, enabled by conscious consumption and new industry business models,” says the report.

Making educated choices and adopting a circular business strategy could help the industry minimise GHG emissions by around 143 million metric tonnes by 2030. Rental, subscription-rental, repair, and re-commerce are simple business practices that might make the fashion industry more eco friendly and at the same time offer profitability and comfort.

SOURCE: Jing Daily