According to Apparel Impact Institute (Aii)’s Taking Stock of Progress Against the Roadmap to Net Zero (2024) report, the apparel and footwear industry has experienced modest progress, including:

  • Apparel sector emissions are estimated to be 0.879 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2022. This represents roughly 1.85% of annual global GHG emissions.
  • Industry emissions have decreased by 1.17% from the 2023 Taking Stock of Progress Against the Roadmap to Net Zero figures.
  • Over 500 apparel, footwear, and textiles companies have approved science-based targets or commitments, a promising uptick compared to only a handful of companies a few years ago.
  • Material processing (Tier 2) accounted for the highest emissions across the value chain at 55%, followed by raw materials (Tier 4) at 21%, raw materials processing (15%), and finished goods assembly (9%).

The report found that apparel companies across the globe and the entire value chain now have a clear understanding of emission hotspots and are investing in both technical and financial resources to reduce them.

Despite these efforts, the report’s authors stressed the need for taking action. Assuming business-as-usual growth for the apparel sector, emissions are projected to reach 1.243 Gt by 2030.

The report further warned that achieving such a significant reduction won’t happen overnight and cannot be attributed to the actions of a single organisation. It said collaboration is key to making substantial progress in industry-wide emissions reductions.

Lewis Perkins, president & CEO of Apparel Impact Institute, highlighted the apparel and footwear industry’s significant role in the global climate crisis, responsible for approximately 1.85% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions in 2022.

Perkins said: “Turning the tides in favour of environmental advancement will require continuous improvement, comprehensive reporting, transparency, and deep commitment from all stakeholders. Aii’s annual Taking Stock of Progress Against the Roadmap to Net Zero refresh provides us with a glimmer of hope as several of the report highlights show that progress is being made; however, we cannot sit comfortably.”

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He advised building on this momentum and accelerating efforts, as greater action is required to further reduce the industry’s contribution to climate change.

Aii explained that the Roadmap to Net Zero report and its updates serve as a reliable and transparent source of truth for the industry, enabling effective action.

This year’s report acknowledges the “ongoing decarbonisation challenges” faced by stakeholders across the apparel industry, including brands, manufacturers, financial institutions, and NGOs. It calls for collective action to implement effective solutions and accelerate progress toward achieving net-zero emissions.

Is the attention on ‘climate change’ waning?

Company filings data shared by GlobalData revealed that conversations around the keyword ‘climate change’ peaked in 2022 with 164 mentions but dropped to just 23 in 2024.

Despite this decline, ‘climate change’ remained the most-mentioned theme from 2021 to 2024, followed by ’emissions’ and ‘climate’, which earned 19 mentions each.

Credit: GlobalData

Although the data suggests a waning buzz around climate change, retailers in the apparel industry are still actively taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints. For instance, last year in August, Danish apparel brand Bestseller collaborated with Maersk Eco Delivery, participating in the maiden voyage of the first methanol-powered container vessel.

Bestseller explained that the bio-methanol used was sourced from bio-mass waste, resulting in a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional fossil fuels.

Moreover, the European Outdoor Group (EOG), along with the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii) and 10 EOG members, completed an audit of its long-term Carbon Reduction Project. This initiative aims to strategise on reducing current emissions levels, demonstrating a continued commitment to addressing climate change within the industry.