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SAN FRANCISCO – The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has launched what it calls a ‘decarbonisation programme’ to support its members with efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The industry body says the programme will focus on “collaboration, member support and delivering tools and guidance to make achieving these targets possible.”

Most notably, the SAC says it will require its corporate members to commit to and set Science Based Targets (SBTs) from 2023. Here, it states: “We believe every stakeholder in the value chain has a role to play in taking concrete action to reduce GHG emissions. From here, the SAC will support members to commit and set SBTs, followed by scaling high impact solutions needed to achieve them collectively.”

The SAC does not state whether it will expel members who do not commit to SBTs and it is not entirely clear how the SAC will support its members on this issue.

The press release further states: “Taking a collaborative approach, the [decarbonisation] program will drive action across the SAC’s membership – which represents about half of the apparel and footwear industry – and the wider industry. By bringing together the full supply chain, from brands and retailers to manufacturers and factories, the SAC will identify the biggest opportunities for impact and help accelerate the large-scale change needed to drive emissions reduction across the industry at scale.”

As with so many SAC statements, there is little in the way of substance here. What does “bringing together the full supply chain,” even mean? Will they all gather in one room?

The statement continues: “Through research* from World Resources Institute (WRI) and Apparel Impact Institute (AII) using data from the SAC’s Higg Index suite of tools and Textile Exchange, in consultation with the industry, six most impactful areas have been identified through which members can collectively drive change and create sustainable impact.”

We won’t list these here as they are well documented – eg energy efficiency, eliminating coal in manufacturing, shifting to renewables and so on.

The question remains, how is the SAC actually helping the industry drive change on this issue? Considering, also, that many major apparel retailers are already engaged in their own work on such issues?

The SAC continues: “Work has already begun to support and engage with SAC members, with capacity building efforts for the scaling of collaborative solutions based on these six interventions. Recently announced a partnership with the UN Fashion Charter to lead the development of new guidance to help apparel and footwear companies more efficiently and consistently measure their purchased goods and services (PG&S) emissions.”

We will revisit this issue in-depth in 2023 via a longer feature.


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