How the fashion industry can take climate action at COP28

COP28, the annual conference where governments, businesses, civil society and activists come together to make commitments and build alliances for climate action, has kicked off in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

While fashion may not be front-of-mind for the high level climate talks, the industry is responsible for a significant proportion of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and holds the power and profits to help phase out fossil fuels and accelerate renewable energy across its global supply chain, the majority of which is based in regions highly vulnerable to climate-related extreme weather events.

Action Speaks Louder’s Fashion Campaign Manager, Ruth MacGilp, will be at COP28 this week with a view to hold some of fashion’s most powerful players accountable for their climate impacts and investigate the do-say gap behind corporate climate commitments made at the conference.

Crucially, COP28 will mark five years since brands and manufacturers joined the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. While there has been a gradual improvement on the number of signatories reporting on climate impacts since its launch, only 45% of signatories have set public climate targets needed to keep global warming below 1.5°C, and only 42% of signatories have set a target for 100% renewable energy in their operations by 2030. This is why, at COP28, signatories must pledge more ambitious and collaborative climate action to achieve the Charter target of net zero emissions by 2050. 

In the lead up to COP28, Action Speaks Louder supported the development of some key demands to fashion companies together with Fashion Revolution, Stand.earth, Eco Age and Transformers Foundation. Essentially, these demands fall into three categories: 

  1. Tell us how and where your clothes were made, how many were produced and their environmental impacts
  2. Set targets, disclose how you established them and report on progress
  3. Tell us how you plan to meet those targets

Of particular relevance to our vision of decarbonizing the fashion supply chain, we are asking brands to disclose their fuel mix by country to better understand our reliance on fossil fuels and where action is needed most. We also want brands to set ambitious climate targets for the supply chain (such as a 55% reduction in absolute scope 3 emissions by 2030) backed up by a credible decarbonization strategy which should include a robust procurement plan to enable a transition to local, additional wind and solar, particularly at the energy intensive Tier 2 stage of the supply chain.

This green transition should be a just transition, which also means that brands must also share financial risk with their suppliers and help them access finance and overcome technical barriers. Finally, we want to see brands use their power and influence to enact policy advocacy to enable better corporate access to renewable energy supply and cleaner, greener energy grids. 

To find out more about these demands, click here.

Additionally, we are supporting the High Fashion, High Carbon campaign from our friends at Kpop4planet, a global movement of Kpop fans fighting for meaningful climate action. At COP28, they are demanding that luxury brands — not just fast fashion — stop using fossil fuels and ramp up renewable energy in their supply chains. Kpop fans globally are rallying on social media by tagging luxury brand representatives at Dior, Celine, Saint Laurent and Chanel — who featured in the Luxury’s Dirty Little Secrets report — and asking them to commit to three key asks:

  1. Commit to 100% renewable energy (local wind and solar) across all operations, including the supply chain by 2030
  2. Set a scope 3 absolute emissions reduction target of 43-48% by 2030 (2019 baseline)
  3. Provide full transparency on the supply chain, details of renewable energy procurement, decarbonization strategy, and progress toward meeting targets.

Kpop4planet campaigner Dayeon Lee said: “COP28 is a perfect venue for brands to show their position as fashion industry leaders by taking action for our climate. We won’t stop until we hear absolute emissions reduction targets and plans to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy.” 

Overall, COP28 presents an opportunity for brands to go beyond empty sustainability promises and to put their money where their mouth is by investing in decarbonizing their supply chain. 

Join us at COP28

Event invitation for 'Exploring a just transition in fashion', a panel being held at COP28 in Dubai by Fashion Revolution, Stand.Earth, Action Speaks Louder, Eco Age, and others on December 9th 2023

‘Exploring a just transition in Fashion’, December 9th 2023

Action Speaks Louder will join Fashion Revolution, Stand.earth, Eco Age, Transformers Foundation, Diamond Denim, Solidaridad and Institute for Sustainable Communities at a panel event at COP28 on Saturday 9th December at 11:30am GMT+4: ‘Exploring a just transition in fashion supply chains: Unpicking fashion’s pathway toward decarbonization in a critical dialogue from multiple stakeholder perspectives to highlight informed pathways for a just transition.‘ For more information, please visit the UNFCCC side event agenda and RSVP to rsvp@fashionrevolution.org.