Fashion Industry is struggling in CO2 reduction

By:Edmond Research and Development | 03/12/2022

Recent studies and surveys about and across Fashion Industry are showing how companies are struggling in meeting their target in CO2e reduction, keeping global warming below 1.5C. Among big names, only the San Francisco based Levi’s is on track on that path, whilst the other major players have still more steps to do.

A last year report from, an environmental organization founded in 2000 in USA and Canada for the protection of forests, highlighted how, despite the efforts done by Fashion Industry, the sector is still far from the target to reduce emission by 55% by 2030. 

“If climate action is a catwalk, most of these brands are still looking for the dressing room. The data is clear, the leading fashion brands need to step up and do more to lower their carbon emissions. During last COP26 all of these brands increased their commitment under the UN Fashion Charter, promising to halve their emissions by 2030.

Yet despite some small signs of progress, most aren’t just failing, they’re actually getting worse,” Rachel Kitchin, corporate climate campaigner for said. “These findings make it worryingly clear that those brands aren’t acting to decarbonize their supply chains, where the vast majority of climate-harming emissions come from.”

Just to give an idea on the supply chain impact of CO2e, two key players like Nike and Inditex (Zara) – reported manufacturing emissions of close to 10 million tons CO2e. based on the report this is “the equivalent of more than 2 million gas-powered cars on the road per company.”

This drive to stress the urgency for fashion industry to decarbonize their supply chain by rapidly commit to a 100% renewable energy across their supply chains.

Fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of global emission per year (59 GigaTons). As per the 2021 report “Dirty fossil fuels like coal continue to power the manufacturing of apparel, footwear, and other fashion goods sold by leading brands, and fracked fabrics like polyester have become a mainstay of fast fashion and athleticwear.” These fabrics “are derived from fossil fuel feedstocks, and whose production is associated with significantly greater emissions compared to plant-based fabrics such as cotton”. Certain Brands who committed on 2018 on the reduction of CO2e emission in reality, on 2021, are even more dependent on coal that when they first signed the charter.

As we know there are 3 scopes for the measurement of CO2e, Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope3 (see our Articles on that topic) but despite Fashion supply chain is responsible for around 90% of GHG emissions, companies continue to focus much of their efforts on decarbonizing their own operations (Scope 1 and 2), which typically represent 10% or less of emissions. Furthermore, some Companies are not even fixing target to reduce CO2e and sometime they base their strategy totally on the carbon offsetting projects with the goal to claim their Carbon Neutral status.

One more element to consider are transportation:  shipping is often responsible for 10% of fashion brands’ GHG emissions, potentially more than that from scope 1 and 2 activities and based on report it is ignored by two-thirds of apparel brands!

At Edmond we believe that a real Company Sustainable Strategy should be based on the reduction of CO2e rather than an offsetting, with a detail analysis of all emission factors in the supply chain, from materials to country of origin, from processes to transportation. Our solutions are in line with these criteria and provide concrete tools for a successful decarbonization process.

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