A large group made up of global fashion brands, retailers, suppliers and other organizations is launching the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, a collective initiative to address global environmental concerns, under the auspices of UN Climate Change. The group includes sports companies such as Adidas, Puma, Arc'teryx, Peak Performance, Salomon and Mammut.

Kering, H&M, Inditex and PVH Corp. are also on the list, as well as organizations such as WWF International, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Textile Exchange, Business for Social Responsibility, and the China National Textile and Apparel Council, among others.

The Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action was launched on Dec. 10, at this year's United Nations climate change conference, the so-called COP24 (where COP stands for Conference of the Parties), which was held in Katowice, Poland. The Charter is now open to other companies and organizations to join. The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) says it will review the issue in January.

The signatories have committed to the 16 principles contained in their Charter to collectively address the climate impact of the fashion sector across its entire value chain. The Charter is aligned with the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature increase below two degrees Celsius. The document contains the vision for the industry to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In addition, the Charter defines other challenges that will be addressed by its signatories, ranging from decarbonization of the production phase, selection of sustainable materials, low-carbon transport, improved consumer dialogue and awareness, working with the financing community and policy-makers to promote scalable solutions, and exploring circular business models. 

Six working groups have been established to make concrete progress on these commitments. The working groups, which will be convened by the UN Climate Change in early 2019, will see the signatories of the Charter work to define the different steps toward its implementation. The signatories have already set an initial target, which is to reduce aggregate greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Also, a first concrete measure that has been defined by the signatories of the Charter includes phasing out coal-fired boilers or other sources of coal-fired heat and power generation in their own companies and direct suppliers by 2025.

The fashion industry includes the textiles, clothing, leather, and footwear industries, from the production of raw materials and manufacturing of garments, footwear and accessories to their distribution and consumption. Owing to the large range of sectors and activities, the fashion industry entails long supply chains and energy intensive production. Most of the carbon footprint is actually being generated in shared supply chains, which means that a collective answer to industry-related environmental issues is crucial.

Puma, one of the Charter's signatories and a pioneer in sustainability, issued a statement in which it stressed that the plan of action set by the fashion industry, targeting net-zero emissions by 2050 and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, goes well beyond the commitments made by any other industry. Addressing climate change is part of Puma's 10FOR20 sustainability strategy. As part of its commitments, the German sports brand will move to 90 percent renewable electricity for all of its owned and operated facilities by 2020.

Additionally, to address the need to reduce carbon emissions within the supply chain, Puma will expand its current energy efficiency program, established with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Vietnam and Bangladesh, to suppliers in other countries. The company has also increased from 50 percent to 90 percent its targets for sourcing cotton and polyester from sustainable or certified sources, and has rolled out the Higg Index, a standardized tool to measure sustainability performance, to all of its core suppliers globally.

The founding signatories of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action are: Adidas, Aquitex, Arc'teryx, Burberry Limited, Esprit, Guess, Gap, H&M, Hakro, Hugo Boss, Inditex, Kering Group, Lenzing, Levi Strauss, Mammut, Mantis World, Maersk, Otto Group, Pidigi, Puma, re:newcell, Schoeller Textiles, Peak Performance, PVH Corp., Salomon, Skunkfunk, SLN Textil, Stella McCartney, Sympatex Technologies, Target, and Tropic Knits Group. Schoeller is a founding developer of the Bluesign system and the very first company to have received Bluesign certification in 2008.

Supporting organizations include: Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC), the China Textile Information Center (CTIC), the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the Sustainable Fashion Academy, Textile Exchange, WWF International and ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation).