The fashion apparel industry has for long borne the burden of being one of the major contributors to pollution and inadvertently climate change; its impact stemming from pre-and post textile waste generation, chemical usage, water usage, energy consumption and carbon emissions among others.

However, efforts are underway within the industry to adopt more sustainable practices, including the use of eco-friendly materials, circular fashion initiatives, and improved supply chain transparency.

Fashion companies and brands have been collating efforts to align their ESG targets in line with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), in a bid to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint and lower emissions at scale because they realise it is no longer an option.

For instance, the Panama Canal Authority’s water-saving and conservation measures highlight concerns around both climate change and fragile supply chains.

Last year fashion company H&M Group signed an open letter along with a number of other global organisations for world leaders at COP27 highlighting the need to decarbonise economies and lay down laws that will tackle climate change in alignment with the Paris Agreement.

Recently, in an open letter to all G20 leaders, the businesses, which included ­apparel brands and retailers such as sports brand Decathlon, secondhand retailer eBay and outerwear brand Mammut Sports – called on the group to take action at COP28.

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The co-signees asked all leaders attending COP28 to lay the groundwork to transition towards a “full phase-out” of unabated fossil fuels and halve emissions within a decade.

The group has urged for additional actions, including a pledge to achieve fully decarbonised power systems by 2035 in advanced economies and by 2040 in other nations. They emphasised the importance of establishing transparent pricing mechanisms through redirecting fossil fuel subsidies toward energy efficiency.

Additionally, the group called for assistance to countries in the global south to help them diversify their energy systems.

An important point to bear in mind is the scale of the industry and the challenges associated with changing consumer behaviour as well as industry practices, which means that addressing environmental concerns will require continuous efforts and collaboration across the sector.

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