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What is the first thing that comes into mind when one thinks of the fashion industry? Larger than life fashion shows, colourful fabrics, unique designs, eye-catching cuts, a plethora of accessories and so much more. But now another addition has been made to that list – Carbon emissions. According to a report published by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the fashion industry is responsible for about 10% of total global emissions. This staggering figure has been met with a resounding call for reducing carbon emissions to zero. But is that a viable option? Let’s take a look.
There are three major steps that have been identified as stepping stones for the fashion industry towards reaching its goal of net-zero carbon emissions. They’re as follows:
When creating a garment, it would require a certain amount of electricity for operating the machines, water for washing, materials for making the actual garment, and other resources. All of this, in turn, creates a certain amount of fashion industry carbon emission. So how do we go about it?
The next step to tackle the fashion industry's carbon emissions is by using carbon positive methods. But what is it and how is it done?
The third step in the way of reducing carbon emissions by industry is going carbon negative. Well, this is a bit complicated. Let’s break it down.
Keeping in mind the carbon emissions by industry, the Paris Climate Change Agreement was drawn up. A legally binding treaty with 196 states as signatories, it was first introduced at the COP21 Paris in 2015 and came into effect in 2016. The Paris Agreement works in a 5-year cycle, with the associated countries being required to make changes that promote sustainable living standards.
Well, changes made in the overall rules and regulations of a country will have a ripple effect on the industry, forcing companies to adopt alternatives to be able to operate and deliver in certain regions. This includes switching to sustainable alternatives, using technology to reduce waste, and contributing towards climate welfare schemes to become carbon neutral.
The latest addition to the Conference of the Parties, the COP26 conference helped world leaders in reviewing their goals and commitments set at the previous COP summit while reviewing the Fashion Industry Charter for further improvements. The Fashion Industry Charter was first launched at COP24 Poland in 2018 and was renewed at the latest COP26 UK in 2021. Here are some highlights:
The fashion industry has often been singled out for the use of unsustainable materials and other manufacturing practices. Here are some of the examples:
To conclude part 1, while the move towards sustainability is not an easy one, it is definitely the need of the hour. The number of companies signing up for climate change initiatives has almost doubled in the past few years, reflecting the acceptance of change within the industry. Policy changes can be a reason. Another one can be the advancement in technology and access to things that would not have been available before. More than that, it could simply be creating a garment that, in a sense, does not have a carbon footprint. Reusing of garments, materials, etc. can be another way of reducing emissions. But with the steady rise in fast fashion and recent changes in consumer trends, it is becoming even more essential for the adoption of climate change initiatives by the brands. While the goal for the fashion industry is to reach zero carbon emissions by 2070, it can only be achieved if we start working together, and do it now before it’s too late.
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