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In the wake of the latest IPCC report, is fashion doing enough to reduce its climate impact?
A strong statistic frequently bandied in recent times refers to the link between fashion and its impact on our planet. Potentially, the fashion industry accounts for as much as 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. That’s enough to make it the second most polluting industry globally.
Given this and the increasingly climate-conscious nature of our society in general, it shouldn’t be any great surprise that fashion brands’ marketing efforts in recent times are focusing on playing up their sustainability credentials.
However, a brand presenting itself as being gentle on the earth is often quite different from its day-to-day operational practices living up to that ideal – and it’s clear that some serious work still needs to be done on the latter front.
Boosting Fashion Sustainability
Elevating sustainability in the fashion world is perhaps a stiffer challenge than previously realised. One recent development that helped focus minds in the fashion world on the scale of the challenge ahead was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ’s publication of its latest report. That report – which runs for some 2,913 pages – paints an uncompromising picture of the need for urgent action.
Scientists denote that if we are even to stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 ºC compared to pre-industrial levels, we must reach peak greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2025. And consequently, avoid the catastrophic global effects of failing to reach that target.
That is a perilously short time away, and the fashion sector cannot hope to shirk its responsibilities in this regard. The New Standard Institute aims to use data and the power of citizens to turn the fashion industry into a force for good. Executive Director, Maxine Bédat, quotes:
“The report made it clear in no uncertain terms that immediate action is needed.”
Adapting Fashion Industry Players
Heading back to examining whether the fashion industry is doing enough to reduce its climate impact to acceptable levels, the short answer is - no. In fact, a 2020 report by McKinsey and Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) – the latter being a forum for sustainability in fashion – found that in the absence of any further measures, the greenhouse gas emissions of the fashion sector are actually set to rise, to about 2.7 billion tonnes a year by the end of this decade.
Even if the fashion industry persists in adopting decarbonisation initiatives at the current pace, emissions would merely stay about the same. That denotes double the levels needed in order to comply with the Paris Agreement target of restricting warming to 1.5 ºC.
In a world where ‘fast fashion’ has most certainly not gone away – and indeed may be as prominent as ever – it is clear that there is still a pressing need for fashion brands across the world to persevere, building on the progress that has already occurred.
There is still inertia and a lack of real leadership on the issue for far too many brands, leading to terrible consequences for our planet. Time continues to tick down on potential climate disasters.
As Bédat says: “There is zero doubt that fashion needs to step up. All of us are looking for leadership in this space [so that we can] move beyond lip service to actual action.”
Brand Climate Communication
Are you communicating your own brand’s climate efforts as well as you could? Whatever your brand in the fashion sector has previously done as part of its obligations to help bolster sustainability and minimise its impact on the planet, and whatever you propose to do in the future, these steps could, and should, be central to the realisation of your growth ambitions.
Talk today to our dedicated fashion digital marketing agency to learn how we can support you in fulfilling your brand objectives in the short, medium and long term. Cruise into conscious digital marketing and help protect our precious planet.
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