Fashion’s Playbook for Climate Action – A Pathway to Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Despite the efforts of governments and other actors, anthropogenic GHG emissions continue to increase. Under current trajectories, global mean temperatures are projected to increase by 2.2°C to 4.4°C by the end of this century.

– Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action | Climate Action Playbook

The global fashion industry has aligned itself with the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement to move towards net-zero emissions by 2050 – targeting global warming below 1.5°C.

This is good news. A rigorous, planned course of action is happening among the industry power players.  The industry recognizes they have a role to play in reducing climate emissions resulting from their operations, with an awareness that the majority of climate impact within the industry lies in manufacturing of products and materials.

Textile Production -
Textile Production –

In 2018, the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, signed by 43 industry giants, was launched in response to the challenge.  Under the umbrella and facilitation of UN Climate Change, fashion stakeholders worked to identify ways in which the broader textile, clothing and fashion industry can move towards a commitment to climate action.

Who are the signatories of the Charter?  They are across the entire fashion value chain. To name a few:

  • Stella McCartney
  • Levi Strauss & Co
  • Adidas
  • Nike
  • Puma
  • Gap Inc.
  • Kering Group
  • Ganni
  • Burberry
  • Chanel
  • Esprit
  • Guess?
  • H&M Group
  • Hugo Boss

The first phase of this commitment is the Climate Action Playbook.  The Playbook was developed by the industry, for the industry, with an intent primarily on less experienced fashion companies that have not taken on the challenge of climate change but want to.  It’s an initial document that will help all fashion stakeholders identify what actions to take and which initiatives and programs could support them.


Reaching net-zero emissions for a company means achieving a state in which the activities within the value-chain of a company result in no net impact on the climate from greenhouse gas emissions. This is achieved by reducing value-chain greenhouse gas emissions, in line with 1.5°C pathways, and by balancing the impact of any remaining greenhouse gas emissions with an appropriate amount of carbon removals.

-Science Based Targets Initiative Discussion Paper

This 72 page Playbook is comprehensive in its scope of background data with an actionable road map to a 45% carbon reduction by 2030, net zero by 2050.  It presents case studies, statistics, tips, solutions, tools, and cites best practice examples from the supply chain.

An entire chapter is devoted to a circular economy in the fashion sector.  With an environmental focus specific to GHG emissions, the chapter highlights material selection, such as recycled and other sustainable closed loop processed materials, design, manufacturing methods, material and product reuse and recycling, and alternative models such as the fast growing repair, rental, and resale markets.

Quantis found that over 90% of the emissions for apparel come from four activities: dyeing and finishing, fabric preparation, yarn preparation, and fiber production.

Measuring Fashion | Environmental Impact of the Global Apparel and Footwear Industries Study

Textile Production -
Textile Production –

In my opinion, the Climate Action Playbook is the most impressive, well thought out guide book that outlines a collective action plan on a massive scale to mitigate the effects of climate change.  It is not a report you have to subscribe to.  It is free and encouraged to use as a tool, a handbook, for all involved.

The industry will greatly benefit from the extraordinary efforts of the United Nations Climate Change and the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action.

Climate Action Playbook – PDF file

Read more on sustainable fashion at Sustainable EDGE.

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Rhonda P. Hill

Founder, Publishing Editor