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Milestone charter sees fashion giants pledge to reduce emissions

The global fashion sector has increased momentum to address climate change by launching the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. Under the auspices of UN Climate Change, premier fashion brands, retailers, supplier organisations, and others, including a major shipping company, have agreed to collectively address the climate impact of the fashion sector across its entire value chain.

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Forty-three brands, including Adidas, Burberry, Esprit, Guess, Gap Inc. Hugo Boss, H&M Group, Inditex, Kering, Levi Strauss & Co., Puma SE, PVH Corp.,Target; leading membership organisations, including Business for Social Responsibility, Sustainable Apparel Coalition, China National Textile and Apparel Council, Outdoor Industry Association and Textile Exchange; global logistics company Maersk; and global NGO WWF International have committed to implementing or supporting the 16 principles and targets that underpin the Fashion Climate Charter.

The Charter, which is open for other companies and organisations to join, recognises the crucial role that fashion plays on both sides of the climate equation - as a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and as a sector with multiple opportunities to reduce emissions while contributing to sustainable development.

Net zero emissions by 2050


Aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Charter contains the vision for the industry to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and defines issues that will be addressed by signatories, ranging from decarbonisation of the production phase, selection of climate-friendly and sustainable materials, low-carbon transport, improved consumer dialogue and awareness, working with the financing community and policymakers to catalyse scalable solutions, and exploring circular business models.

To make concrete progress on these commitments, six working groups have been established in which signatories will work to define steps for implementation.

The signatories are not waiting for these issues to be fully elaborated and have set an initial target to reduce their aggregate greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and have defined concrete measures, such as phasing out coal-fired boilers or other sources of coal-fired heat and power generation in their own companies and direct suppliers from 2025.

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“The fashion industry is always two steps ahead when it comes to defining world culture, so I am pleased to see it now also leading the way in terms of climate action,” said UN Climate Change executive secretary Patricia Espinosa. “I congratulate the signatories of this important charter, which represents a unique commitment and collaboration from an array of fashion leaders. The Charter, like the renowned fashion runways of the world, sets an example that I hope others will follow.”

The Charter is industry-led, and open to a wider group of fashion stakeholders. It is supported by a range of relevant organisations and NGOs that will foster ambition which will be tracked and recognised by UN Climate Change. The Charter aims to drive climate action in the sector, including by complementing and supporting other fashion sector initiatives aimed at increasing climate action.

“We are aware that more than 90 percent of Puma’s carbon footprint is being generated in shared supply chains. If we want to reduce carbon emissions in our supply chains, we need to work together with our industry peers,” said Bjørn Gulden, CEO of Puma. “The Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action provides a collective industry effort to support the goals of the Paris Agreement. We appreciate that UN Climate Change has set up a global platform and call upon our industry peers to join the initiative.”

Karl-Johan Persson, CEO H&M Group commented: “This charter is about getting the fashion industry united in important climate work. Our industry has a global reach and only together can we create the change that is urgently needed. We are happy to be a signatory of this charter as part of our ambition to become climate positive in our value chain.”

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Clarion call for the fashion industry


In early 2018, fashion leaders volunteered to shape a climate movement through discussions in working groups chaired by Puma SE and H&M Group. The launch last week, during the critical UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland (COP24), reflects sectoral buy-in and is a clarion call to the fashion industry globally to sign-up to climate action.

The founding signatories are: Adidas, Aquitex, Arcteryx, Burberry Limited, Esprit, Guess, Gap Inc., H&M Group, Hakro Gmbh., Hugo Boss, Inditex, Kering Group, Lenzing AG, Levi Strauss & Co., Mammut Sports Group AG, Mantis World, Maersk, Otto Group, Pidigi S.P.A, PUMA SE, re:newcell, Schoeller Textiles AG, Peak Performance, PVH Corp., Salomon, Skunkfunk, SLN Textil, Stella McCartney, Sympatex Technologies, Target and Tropic Knits Group.

Supporting organisations include: Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC), China Textile Information Center (CTIC), Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), Sustainable Fashion Academy (SFA), Textile Exchange, WWF International and ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation).

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By signing on to the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, CEOs and presidents of these organisations have confirmed their commitment to address climate change and their willingness to step up collaboration within and beyond the fashion sector towards a cleaner, low-carbon future.

The fashion industry – which encompasses textiles, clothing, leather, and footwear industries, from the production of raw materials and manufacturing of garments, accessories and footwear to their distribution and consumption – has long supply chains and energy-intensive production.

“Burberry is proud to be a signatory of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action,” said Marco Gobbetti, chief executive officer, Burberry. “While we have committed to becoming carbon neutral in our own operations, achieving a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the entire global fashion industry by 2030 will require innovation and collaboration. By working together with other signatories of the Charter, we believe that we can achieve systemic change and build a more sustainable future.”

A key challenge of our lifetime


“Climate change is undoubtedly one of, if not, the biggest challenge of our lifetime. It is and will affect everyone on this planet and our future,” said designer Stella McCartney. “This is why I am proud to be a signatory of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. I want to call on my peers in the business, from other brands to retailers and suppliers, to sign up to this charter now and take the necessary actions to address the reality of the issue of climate change in their business and value chains. Collectively we have a voice and the capacity to make a difference.”

Principles and actions outlined in the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action will be pursued and developed collectively through working groups which will be convened by the UN Climate Change in early 2019. Any company or organisation professionally engaged in the fashion sector, regardless of where they are in their environmental journey, and who are committing to the principles of the Charter by signing it, may participate in this work.
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