1.5 Degrees

Page 1

1.5°

the reality behind fashion

V O L U M E I : FA S H I O N


01

What is the Significance Behind 1.5°?

02 Fashion &

Climate Crisis 1

1.5°


04

How Can Reform Be Achieved?

The Impact of the Fashion Industry

03

Table of Contents

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EMISSION PROJECTIONS & T H E PA R I S A G R E E M E N T

what is the significance behind 1.5°? It is no stranger to the public that

climate change is taking a profound effect on the Earth and its various ecosystems. But at what rate is this effect taking place? Experts are saying that, in terms of global warming, pre-industrial levels were surpassed by 1°C in 2017 and are on track to increase steadily by approximately 0.2°C each decade, with high statistical confidence. Global warming, as context, is defined as the increases in combined surface air and ocean surface temperatures averaged over a thirty year time period. And as of 2000, levels of human induced warming have been equated to a range of +/-20% with increase from pre-industrial levels to the decade of 2006-2015 being about 0.89°C. With high confidence, most areas of the world have experienced warming greater than that of the global average. This means that 20 - 40% of the global population has experienced, by the 20062015 range, levels of warming above that of 1.5°C in a given season. Projected scenarios are predicting that in order to keep to the 1.5°C pathway or below, carbon dioxide emissions from 2018 and further would have to net at or below 570-Gigatons (Gt). This condition must also be met in order to reach the goal of attaining net-zero emissions by 2050.

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Figure I.

Metric Gigatonnes (Gtons) CO2 equiv.

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Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) [2015] 1.5°C Target Pathway

At the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), almost 200 countries signed an internationally legally binding treaty regarding climate change. This treaty has been come to be known as the Paris Agreement, adopted in December of 2015 and established effective as of November 2016. The premise of the treaty is to mutually agree amongst the various nations to keep the average global warming to below that of the approaching 2.0°C mark above global levels. As part of this contingency, the involved countries must report freuqent strategies and mechanisms to which they aim to reach for net-zero emissions as quickly as feasibly possible. These are known as INDCs, which contian commitments for

I N D C S A R E P U B L I C LY OUTLINED ACTION P L A N S T H AT A R E RELEASED BY INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES AS A PA R T O F T H E U . N . FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON C L I M AT E C H A N G E (UNFCCC) CONFERENCE OF T H E PA R T I E S I N PA R I S , 2 0 1 5

carbon reduction plans, including that of prioritizing carbon sinks through till arounf 2025-2030.

What is the Significance Behind 1.5°?

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1.0

7.0 Figure II. Based on current projections, the above comapres the current average changes in global surface temperatures (in C°) [1986-2005 versus 2081-2100]

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In 2018 alone, GHG levels reached record breaking

Therefore, the goal to act upon and keep to the 1.5°

levels – 407.8 parts per million (ppm), to be exact.

pathway is vital for life to remain operating as it

With this trend only on the rise, the potential for

has in the future to come. Fortunately, as it stands,

severe to even catastrophic levels of climate change

human activity has only increased temperature

are only ever increasing. This poses immense risk to

levels by 1.0°, therefore there is still time to act

future generations who will be left to deal with and

so as to not go above 1.5°. To keep to this goal, the

endure the effects of these changes. We are already

Intergovernmental

witnessing the repercussions such as in rising

(IPCC) reports that emissions must be cut in half

temperatures, extreme weather events, water stress

within the next decade. Essentially, emission levels

and ecosystem disruptions, which will only be the

must decline by 15% each year starting from 2020,

beginning if no action is taken to confront this issue.

otherwise the carbon budget will be depleted within

Panel

on

Climate

Change

eight years. From severe wildfires to record breaking temperatures every year, the signs are clear that change is needed in order to solve the imminent danger that climate change puts the earth at. Among the various factors attributing the constant increase in climate change, we are going to take a look at how the fashion industry, a once quite overlooked sector, contributes to the billions of carbon equivalent each year in emissions.

“Essentially, emission levels must decline by 15% each year starting from 2020, otherwise the carbon budget will be depleted within eight years.”

What is the Significance Behind 1.5°?

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02

Fashion & the Climate Crisis Among the various industries contributing to climate

change, an overlooked and also quite misconstrued sector

is that of fashion. According to various research, the fashion industry accounts for approximately 4% of the global GHG emissions. And while it does not amount to the common misconception of being the second highest polluting or emitting industry, it still equates to a considerable total being around 2.1 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Within the industry itself, there are various systems that comprise it as a whole and complete its cyclical fashion.

NOTE: TONNES REFERS TO M E T R I C M E A S U R E M E N T, DIFFERING FROM TONS (2.1B TONNES = 2.3B TONS)

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UPSTREAM PRODUCTION Raw Material extraction: Before garments can be assembled, the raw materials must be sourced first. These range from synthetic materials like polyester, plant-based materials like cotton and animal-based materials like wool. Yarn Preparation: This stage refers to the making of yarn and thread from the aforementioned raw materials to be used for weaving-loom or knitting processes Fabric Preparation: Making fabric moves onto the weaving, knitting, or other processes utilizing the yarn or thread from the previous stage. Wet Processes and Finishing: Some fabric requires further processes to achieve the desired appearance or texture. To execute this, methods like dyeing, printing, coatings, enzyme washing, and lamination are utilized. Garment Production: Next, fabric transitions into being made into the garment itself. First it is cut from patterns, where the pieces are then sewn together, and the garment is finished with trim, labels, and final details along with quality checks.

U T I L I Z AT I O N & E N D - O F - U S E Product Use: This stage refers to the actual use and care of the garment after being purchased. This includes being worn, washed, dried, ironed, tailored,

B R A N D O P E R AT I O N S

patched, or resold.

Transport: The garments move onto their respective

End of Use: Finally, when the garment is no longer of

regions and sometimes are moved between various

use or has reached the end of its lifespan. It is then

continents to reach their destination.

disposed of, typically resulting in it ending up in landfill

Retail: Here, the garments are sold at retail store fronts, traditionally at physical locations but can be located at online retailers where the garments will be sold online to be shipped from a warehouse.

or being incinerated. Other times it can be donated to be resold at charitable retailers. A small percentage of garments are recycled or upcycled either into refurbished garments or into fabric to be remade once again.

Fashion & the Climate Crisis

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Utilization & End-of-Use

20%

Brand Operations

20%

=

Upstream Operations

60%

Figure III. The above figure simply visualizes the total percentages of emissions that each category of the industry as listed in the previous page. The

100%

~2bn ton of CO2 equivalent

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upstream processes that make up the sourcing and production of the garments makes up for over half of the total emissions. Brand operations and consumer behaviors make up 20% each.


As illustrated in the figure, each category of systems plays a role in the fashion industry’s overall contribution to climate change. The main perpetrator is the upstream production, where 60% of the total emissions of the industry originate from even before the garments even hit the sales floor. From there, brand operations and the actual garment usage each contribute 20% to make up the remaining values. It is processes like that of the raw materials that, upon close inspection, play a large role in their GHG emissions and overall pollution. Items like cotton require large quantities of water, adding to the some 79 billion cubic meters of water consumed by the industry in a single year, topping even that of the electricity industry. Despite the enormous quantity, it is trumped by other areas like agriculture and food production, totaling only 0.87% of the global yearly amount. Despite smaller percentages than

Polyester is a byproduct of plastics, which amongst the other synthetic

industries like agriculuture and oil,

fabrics, comprise 16% of all plastics produced yearly. Plastics are another

fashion still contributes considerable

huge issue, and it is reported that the fashion industry ranks second

amounts in the grand scheme. We

regarding origins of plastics found in the ocean. A new study states that 75%

should be wary of our spending habits

of plastics found in the arctic can be traced back to clothing. Furthermore,

and how these products relate to the

the production aspect of this category is then mainly powered through

overarching issue.

traditional coal plants, and then the end-of-use category includes the masses of byproducts that end up in landfills. The waste of the garment industry totals for 92 million tons of solid waste per year worldwide, which is 4% of the global total. Though 4% is not an enormous statistic, when in context that there is 2.12 billion tons of waste dumped globally each year, even the small percentages add up to staggering amounts.

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03 The Impact

of the Fashion Industry

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A B AT E M E N T P O T E N T I A L I T Y

As populations increase and economies continue to thrive,

Specifically, 205 Mn tonnes CO2 Eq. can be reduced by

volume of production and consumption are only projected

decarbonizing material sourcing and production. This

to increase. Carbon emissions from the fashion industry

accounts for improvement with energy consumption

with these assumed increases set the 2030 emissions to

in textile manufacturing, as well as the methods used in

reach 2.7 billion metric tons. And although there are current

growing plant-based materials such as with pesticide

contingencies in place to address climate change in the fashion

reduction in cotton cultivation as 70% of GHG emissions

industry, these methodologies are only projected to cap

for cotton production, specifically, lies with the use of

emissions at 2.1 billion metric tons per year by 2030 which is the

pesticides. Next, 703 Mn tonnes of CO2 Eq. can be saved

goal as per the 2015 Paris Agreement and IPCC. This is roughly

in material processing in regard to the technology used

the same as what the current levels are at today. Despite such

to power such processes. Utilizing renewable energy and

efforts, these levels need to, essentially, be reduced by half in

improved efficiency in the weaving, knitting, machinery,

order to meet expectations set by the 1.5° pathway for 2030.

etc. is vital to achieve this. Another 24 Mn tonnes CO2 Eq.

To meet the standards of emissions reductions for the 1.5° pathway, the abatement potential is set to a total of 1.676 Million (Mn) tonnes of CO2 equivalent (Eq.). Research performed by McKinsey & Company has outlined what in each previously mentioned sectors of fashion needs to be done in order to effectively reduce emissions by the given potential amount. With the largest output of emissions comes the greatest abatement potential. 61% of reduction in emission lies in the upstream operations, meaning a possible 1.022 Bn tonnes of CO2 Eq. that can be reduced within the upstream sector alone.

can be reduced through production and manufacturing waste with just a 1-2% adjustment in improving the amount of waste generated by making fibers into the textiles. Lastly, 90 Mn tonnes CO2 Eq. can be saved through decarbonizing garment production pertaining to the operations and maintenance of the facilities used for such processes. This includes improving energy efficiency, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and upgrades with sewing and other assembly machineries. A key factor here is the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, which is projected to save approximately 1 Bn metric tons of CO2 Eq. emissions by 2030 alone if implemented industry wide.

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Under brand operations comes a potential 18% abatement possibility. This includes a 41 Mn tonne CO2 Eq. reduction from improving material selection. This means that at minimum a 20% transition into adopting recycled polyester (rPET) and an 11% transition to other alternatives such as organic, recycled, or bio-based textiles by 2030. Next, 39 Mn tonnes CO2 Eq. falls with the progression to more sustainable methods of transport. This could mean a 90% of transportation would change over to being sea based, while only 10% would remain airborne industry wide.

Another 5 Mn tonnes CO2 Eq. is possible with improving packing in terms of materials used such as a 20% increase in recycled content plus an 80% switch to recycled low-density plastic content. Then, a 52 Mn tonne CO2 Eq. could be delivered through decarbonizing retail operations. This falls under more efficient energy utilization such as with heating, air conditioning, and

energy as well. Finally, a significant 158 Mn tonnes of CO2 Eq. could be saved through reducing overproduction. This takes into account the 40% of items that are forced into markdowns simply due to the sheer amount extra leftover. Lastly, the remaining 21% of the potential

related actions

directly to consumer

totals can be attributed

21% of potential abatement

lighting systems assuming a switch to total renewable

abatement plan lies in the consumer behaviors and end-of-use processes. 143 Mn tonnes CO2 Eq. lies with the possibility in using circular business models. These could take the form of fashion rentals, re-commerce, repair and refurbishing all could enable the industry to make these significant cuts in emissions. Next, reduced washing and drying of garments could potentially save 186 Mn tonnes CO2 Eq. if consumers alike changed the frequency in which they washed and dried their clothing.

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2,740

no action

2,106

2,104

current projection

1,100

Projection with 1.5° Target +2% per annum

Figure IV.

The figure above shows the possible pathways

depending on the methods and steps taken to reduce

emissions on the way to the 2030 goal based on the

1.5° pathway.

For example, skipping one wash out of every six and using cold water rather than hot cycles, specifically below 30°, as well as substituting one out of every six drying cycles with open air drying. Lastly, increased recycling and collection of garments could allow for 19 Mn tonnes CO2 Eq. in emissions cuts as it would lessen the amount of incineration and garments left in landfill, shifting the industry to a more closed loop recycling type of model.

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CLOSING REMARKS Overall, there is much to be desired in the way that the fashion

things, that does not mean it can be ignored as it has been. It is

operates, whether it be with sourcing, manufacturing, retail

still more important now more than ever that we, as a society

or disposal. However, with all of this information having been

and global community, change our consumer behaviors to

said, despite fashion producing what seems like enormous

the best of our abilities and is reasonable to achieve. And

amounts of emissions, it is not at the forefront. There are

while most of what is potentially most significant to be

other industries that are contributing many times over of

changed about how the industry operates falls onto the laps

what the garment industry is. Industries like agriculture, oil,

of corporations or is just outside the breadth of the public, it

and transportation all produce much more GHG emissions

does not give reason to remain ignorant of our detrimental

and also pollute much more than fashion does. So, while

habits. To start, we have to be aware of how we are spending

fashion is not the focal point in the conversation of who

and what we are spending on in terms of clothing. This means

contributes more to climate change in the grand scheme of

that buying new should not be a priority,

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rather buying secondhand is most beneficial. And when it is necessary to buy new, try to purchase from companies who has a sustainable background and actively tries to produce a relatively small footprint. Lastly, supporting charitable organizations striving and pushing for sustainable initiatives is more impactful than it seems. Pressuring companies who are fault of being severely negligent in this area need to be held accountable and spending your money elsewhere is as much a start as any. This can also apply to government officials and policy makers who have the power to regulate and incentivize such industrial processes with sustainable initiatives and prioritizing decarbonization of the fashion industry and others like it. With only a decade until the deadline for the projected 1.5° pathway, there is much to be done and still much more we can advocate for in order to ensure a healthy future for the place we call home.

This is a collaborative effort in order to assure the prosperity of not only our planet, but our global communities that suffer as a side effect of the industry and from climate change overall. To address this issue is to adapt and to protect. How will you take part?

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