Levi Strauss & Co has come under fire from environmental group Stand.earth, which is calling on the jeans giant to transition its entire supply chain to renewable energy, with a minimum of 50% of energy sourced through renewables by 2035.
Climate activists with the ‘Too Dirty to Wear’ campaign, launched by Stand.earth last week, flash mobbed Levi’s flagship store in San Francisco, removing their jeans in a show of protest against what it calls Levi’s “climate pollution impacts”. The group also hung a banner next to the company’s sign, changing the name to ‘LEVI STRAUSS & CO2’ as part of its call for the retailer to “lead the fashion industry out of its growing climate pollution and catalyse a transition to renewable energy.”
“Climate change touches every part of our lives, including the clothing we wear. We all need to clean up our act, and we are calling on Levi’s to lead the way by getting the factories that make Levi’s to transition away from coal and other fossil fuels and start using renewables,” explains Karen Mahon, campaign director at Stand.earth.
While Stand.earth admits Levi’s has made some changes in its direct operations, it says the company has no firm climate commitments for up to 90% of its climate pollution, which is based largely in its supply chain. Levi’s current climate initiatives include reducing emissions by 25% in offices, retail, and distribution by 2020, and switching to 20% renewable energy in direct operations by 2020.
“Coal is the top source of electricity in Levi’s factories in its main supplying countries,” it says. “Levi’s products are made in 170 factories in China, where coal powers 70% of the electrical grid, and 44 factories in India, where coal powers 75% of the electrical grid.”
In an open letter addressed to Levi’s employees, Stand.earth says the company’s leadership and innovation in protecting the global climate is more urgent than ever. It adds: “We believe that Levi’s can become part of the solution by catalysing the demand for renewable energy in China, India and other supplying countries and accelerating the shift away from coal.”
The ‘Too Dirty to Wear’ campaign calls on Levi’s to make the following climate commitments:
- Make a leadership-level climate commitment for the full supply chain to meet or beat the Paris Climate Agreement, a 30-40% absolute reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
- Transition the entire supply chain to renewable energy, with a minimum of 50% of energy sourced through renewables by 2035.
- Commit to a long-term carbon emission reduction target of 66% by 2050 for the entire supply chain.
“At Levi Strauss & Co, we have long been firmly committed to staving off climate change and have set – and are on track to exceed – aggressive goals for reducing our emissions and using renewable energy within our owned and operated facilities,” the company said in a statement. “More broadly, we are partnering with groups such as the National Resources Defense Council to reduce factory emissions across the global supply chain in a way that can be scaled across the industry. And, because climate change is a broad issue requiring the action of leaders across industries and beyond borders, we’ve been vocal in our support for the Paris Climate agreement and in urging world leaders to take meaningful action to protect our environment.
“We are proud to be a leading voice on this issue and will remain dedicated to taking steps within our own business, as well as encouraging others to take action as well, for the good of our employees, consumers and communities around the world.”
Stand.earth’s campaign comes one month after the denim giant revealed the second year of its global fellowship programme will address the climate impact of the apparel industry in a bid to help transition the sector to a low-carbon future.