The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.2 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century. The change is largely driven by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and other human activities. The current warming of more than 1 degree Celsius has already led to shifts in climate zones, changes in precipitation patterns, melting of ice sheets and glaciers, accelerating sea level rise and more frequent and more intense extreme events, threatening people and nature.
The fashion industry’s impact
The world’s population is growing, 7.9 billion people will increase to close to 10 billion by 2050. Along with this comes an increasing middle class, and a skyrocketing consumption pattern, putting enormous pressure on our already strained climate situation. The fashion industry causes up to 10% of the global carbon emissions and apparel supply chains heavily rely on the use of fossil fuel. Polyester, one of the most common fashion materials in the world, is made of fossil resources. Synthetic fibres are thus associated with high non-renewable resource use and climate emissions, which arise from extraction of fossil fuels and production of the chemicals from which the fibers are made.
What we need to do
Reaching the Paris Agreement’s target to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, will be possible only if the fashion industry invests in a resilient recovery and limits the use of fossil fuels. Resources will have to be used much more effectively, with a shift towards renewable sources of energy and materials, as well as improved consumption behaviour.
By taking action, such as including renewable energy in all decisions, removing or reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the production phase and encouraging sustainable consumer behaviours, the impact from climate change can be reduced, both locally and globally. Cutting the fossil fuels out may prevent irreversible climate change, including global warming and flooding, as well as food and water shortage.
Mitigating climate change is vital, urgent and cost saving: the lower the degree of warming, the easier and cheaper it will be to adapt.