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NEW YORK – The UN Fashion Charter for Climate Action has been criticised for ignoring existing options for brands to slash GHG emissions in their supply chains. In a hard-hitting op-ed, leading US environmental NGO Stand.earth suggests the charter fails to account for the fact that industry has limited time to address climate issues before they become irreversible. “When companies like Nike and PVH Corp (Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger) — brands that have done little to address their climate impacts — flock to a ‘solution’ like the UN charter, we should all hold our noses,” argues Todd Paglia, executive director at Stand.earth. “It’s a well-intentioned effort by an international body, but with no secretariat, little funding, and working groups focused on researching ways to ‘solve the problem’, the charter simply ignores the myriad solutions that already exist (like the Higg Index and Clean by Design). With today’s changing climate, we simply don’t have time left to discover whether the whole thing is simply a big delay tactic.”

Paglia was talking on the one-year anniversary of Levi’s public pledge that between now and 2025, it would slash GHG emissions by 40 per cent in its entire supply chain.

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Adds Paglia: “With a recent UN report telling us the world has just over a decade to drastically reduce emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the industry is about to get rocked by a climate scandal. 

“Levi’s is among the first brands trying to get ahead of the issue, rather than wait for it to explode. Now, the rest of the industry is on notice.

“The revolutionary, and most hopeful, part of Levi’s climate commitment is that it applies to not only reducing pollution at its stores and headquarters, but more importantly, to the factories where its jeans are made. 

“That level of commitment continues to be extremely rare. In the past year, other fashion brands have continued to make commitments that largely apply only to their offices and stores, which is often just 10 per cent of their total climate footprint. These fake climate commitments do nothing to address the scale of the problem, and companies like American Eagle and Columbia Sportswear must be held accountable to their crass PR moves masquerading as climate leadership. It’s like bragging that you quit smoking, but leaving out that you only quit for one hour per day.”

Paglia is also scathing of the move towards circular economy by the fashion industry. He adds: “Another issue getting a lot of attention in the fashion world these days is the phrase ‘circular economy.’ The concept can be a good thing — but only when paired with actual climate pollution reductions. When leaders like Levi’s make dramatic climate commitments, while a gaggle of other companies talk loudly about clothes recycling and zero-waste design, we should all be suspicious. As companies like Levi’s show the fashion industry that drastic supply chain pollution reductions can be done right now, a holistic sector by 2030 will do us no good. It’s simply too late.”

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