Article by Rachel Cernansky posted on Vogue Business.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change upped the ante this week for the world to rein in emissions and prevent the extreme weather events of today, now definitively linked to human activity, from getting worse. For the fashion industry, the takeaway is an unequivocal message that its climate efforts fall far short of the challenge at hand, and that companies must move faster.
“Our message to every country, government, business and part of society is simple. The next decade is decisive for climate action,” says Alok Sharma, president-designate of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. “We all need to follow the science and embrace our responsibilities to keep the goal of 1.5°C alive,” he adds, referring to the threshold scientists have warned will lead to catastrophic and irreversible impacts. “This includes the fashion industry.”
The IPCC, a body of scientists convened by the United Nations, reported that scientists are more confident than ever that extreme weather events are caused by human activity, and that the world can no longer prevent intensified warming over the next 30 years — but it does have a short amount of time to prevent it.
Despite increased talk of sustainability and climate change, fashion lacks the urgency that scientists say is necessary. While the report places pressure on governments globally to take action, experts say it puts the fashion industry’s climate targets in sharp relief, concluding that its efforts are not urgent enough, and in many cases misplaced entirely. Brands need to dramatically reduce their emissions in the immediate future — in the next five to 10 years — and not assume they have the luxury of decades to reduce them gradually, say scientists. “That sadly is not good enough,” says Sharma.