Fashion Industry Not on Track to Achieve Scope 3 Emissions Goals, Says New Report

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by | Oct 27, 2021

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Strong pledges aside, many fashion industry brands will not meet their Scope 3 emissions goals, according to a new report by climate change solutions consultant Climate Board and ethical fiber advocacy group Textile Exchange. This news follows last week’s report that the fashion industry made virtually no progress in becoming more transparent about their environmental impact in 2021.

Greenhouse gas emissions are categorized into three groups or “scopes” by the most widely used emissions accounting tool, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Scope 1 refers to direct emissions from sources such as fuel combustion and vehicle operation. Scope 2 accounts for purchased power, such as electricity and heating. Scope 3 encompasses indirect emissions, including those from supply chain partners in manufacturing and distribution.

The fashion industry has significantly reduced Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions However, 90% of the industry’s emissions are from indirect (Scope 3) sources. On this front,

“Early evidence indicates as many as two thirds of brands and retailers that have announced Scope 3 targets are not on track to achieve absolute Scope 3 emission reductions.”

The report points out that “the aggressiveness of publicly announced goals is not correlated with actual carbon reduction.” In recent years, fashion brands, under pressure from stakeholders, have established emissions reduction targets. But the report found that “setting bold goals” often does not correlate to an actual reduction in emissions, especially Scope 3 emissions.

Authors warn that a loose definition of sustainable fiber is not enough: before sourcing “sustainable” fiber from a given supplier, brands must confirm that they use low-emissions production methods.

The report outlines a four-step method achieving proven emissions reductions:

  1. Defining greenhouse gas-reduction success.
  2. Mobilizing the organization.
  3. Transforming the supply chain.
  4. Extending impact.

According to The World Bank, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of emissions globally — more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

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