The fashion industry and COP26

16 February 2022

Is climate change pushing brands to do better?

 Image by British Fashion Council
Image by British Fashion Council

During these days news about COP26 is bouncing off every media worldwide.

Before understanding how the fashion industry is tackling this problem, let's clarify what COP26 is.

It is the 26th UN Climate Change Conference on the Parties hosted in Glasgow from 31st October to 12th November 2021.

The COP26 summit has the goal to bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

More than 20,000 delegates, government officials, activists and companies from around the world are taking part in the conference to address the main issues related to the climate change.

It is carried out to verify the effects of the Paris Agreement, a real turning point in the global response to the climate crisis.

How is it going?

Words are many, actions are few.

Thousands of demonstrators are protesting through Glasgow and trying to urge governments to take decisive action and put down on paper clear objectives and not just throw words away.

However, if the first drafts did not seem to lead to any concrete agreement, extraordinary news emerged on the evening of 10th November. The two largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, the USA and China, reached an agreement to combat the climate crisis.

As the world holds its breath waiting for the end of this conference, the spectre of an escalating climate crisis remains in the air.

When actual government policies - rather than commitments - are analysed, projected global warming is 2.7C by 2100.

So how is the fashion industry dealing with this?

Image by the British Fashion Council and Great Campaign
Image by the British Fashion Council and Great Campaign

From industry giants to newcomers, fashion brands are striving to achieve increasingly sustainable performance. The clothing and footwear industries are responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

On 9th November the British Fashion Council and Great Campaign hosted the “GREAT Fashion for Climate Action”. This event was the showcase for the sustainable and innovative performance of some of the UK's top brands such as Burberry, Stella McCartney, Bethany Williams, Phoebe English, Priya Ahluwalia and Mother of Pearl.

  Image by Great Fashion for Climate Action
Image by Great Fashion for Climate Action

Luxury houses such as Burberry are including sustainability in their core-business. It has committed to becoming climate positive by 2040 and aims to do so by reducing its emissions across its extended supply chain by 46% by 2030 following its Burberry regeneration fund.

Mother of Pearl continues to realize sustainable performance as its launch in 2018 of its first fully sustainable line using natural fibres and Tencel.

Bethany Williams combines recycled textiles and social production by supporting people and communities struggling to find work. Moreover, the designer guarantees plastic-free packaging and the London Living Wage, a rate above the national minimum to improve the Londoners workers quality of life.

Image by Burberry

Image by British Fashion Council

The Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action must be renewed with the news targets of COP26 as it offers detailed guidelines on decarbonisation and reduction of CO2 emissions in the fashion industry. The Charter has gained prestigious adherents, such as Stella McCartney, Burberry and the Kering Group, but is aimed at everyone in the textile supply chain - from suppliers to shipping companies.

Climate change, and COP26 in particular, can be the turning point for the fashion industry to innovate its processes and grow in towards a sustainable direction while protecting the planet at the same time.

Once fashion industry realizes that sustainability is a must and not a simple must-have accessory to decorate its clothes, things can change.

This article has been written by SBP creative team.

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