Climate ACtion - The Countdown Continues
In 2019 The Swedish Textile Initiative for Climate Action (STICA) was launched to support the Nordic apparel and textile industry to reduce its climate impacts in line with a 1.5oC warming pathway, while strengthening its global competitiveness. REAL attended the STICA webinar in which they gave an update on progress being made by member companies and held a discussion, with industry experts, on what it will take for the Swedish apparel and textiles industry to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 while also leading the world in climate action. REAL attended the 11 February webinar “Climate Action – The Countdown Continues”. The panelists were:
Åsa Andersson (Peak Performance)
Eva Eiderström (The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation)
Kim Hellström (H&M Group)
Magnus Nikkarinen (Swedish Trade Federation)
Sandra Roos (KappAhl)
Michael Schragger (STICA)
Cecilia Tall (TEKO)
The industry's climate impact
Michael talked about the climate impact of the fashion industry. It is important to consider that in model pathways with no or limited overshoot of 1.5oC, global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions (those attributable to humans) need to decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030. They need to reach net zero around 2050. There are a number of methodologies to approach this including Science-based Targets and The Carbon Law. The latter indicates we need to reduce carbon emissions by 50% every decade to reach zero around 2050. Emissions by 2030 should have reduced to 25 Gt (gigatonnes) to be on course to limit temperature rise to 1.5oC. Based on current government commitments we are on track to be at 59 Gt by 2030 which would be expected to mean a devastating 3.5oC temperature rise this century. Business needs to step up and cut carbon more rapidly.
Fossil fuels are used through the life cycle of garments. The overall climate impact of the textile sector was calculated to be 3.29 Gt (6.7% of total emissions) in 2018 by Quantis (increased to 8% if footwear included). More recent studies using different methodologies have indicated lower impact with McKinsey & Co in 2020 at 2.1 Gt (4% of total) and a study by World Resources Institute and Apparel Impact Institute in 2020 at 1.39 Gt (2.8% of total). The parts of the value chain with greatest impact are raw material processing and material production. H&M calculated that 48% of total 2019 emissions were associated with fabric production.
The business case for taking action is becoming increasingly strong with pressure from consumers, investors taking into account climate risk, media coverage and legislation (particularly in the EU).
Michael talked about STICA and its latest progress report. STICA has two workstreams; an action learning network and industry roadmap and action. Members come from Norway and Denmark as well as Sweden. STICA requires companies to
- Set targets, measure and report in accordance with STICA guidelines (informed by Science-based Targets methodology)
- Report progress annually (all scopes according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol)
- Make targets and commitments public
- Share knowledge and insights with other companies and engage in joint projects where possible and practical
- Support action at the industry level.
The 2021 progress report indicates that STICA company members have decreased their own emissions on average by 15% (scope 1 and 2). The most significant sources of emissions (78%) for an average STICA company are purchased electricity and heat used in stores, offices and other facilities. Key next steps for STICA are
- Carry out scope 3 calculations, set targets and report
- Build a roadmap and action plan for reducing the Swedish industry’s textile emissions by 50% by 2030
- For member companies to continue to identify and implement emission reduction activities in all scopes.
There was a panel discussion on actions necessary for the Swedish textile industry to halve its emissions by 2030 and be the global leader in climate action.
Sandra of KappAhl talked about a project which had been quantifying the benefit of various actions with existing techniques for example a 9% reduction from a 10% longer life length, a 16% reduction from all synthetic fibres being dope dyed, a 20% reduction from a 50% electricity mix being replaced with 50% solar and 50% wind power.
Kim emphasised the importance of energy efficiency in the supply chain’s infrastructure – the facilities and buildings. This means onsite solar electricity generation and onsite solar heat and steam generation, replacing coal-fired boilers with electric boilers using renewable energy and the infrastructural challenges of developing sustainable waste biofuel and developing biogas production capabilities. Suppliers need to be supported in taking action. Kim talked about the importance of being collaborative with competitors and like-minded companies in other industries. H&M have decided it is important to develop in-house expertise in the field of energy.
For Åsa, as part of a small company, the challenge is where to start. Small companies don’t have the in-house knowledge about the energy sector. They do have the advantage of having closer relationships with suppliers in the value chain.
Eva stressed the importance of taking into account the unsustainable use of resources, both finite and biological, when thinking about emissions. There is also the need to consider loss of biodiversity associated with the land use required for renewable energy alternatives. Eva also questioned whether economic growth can be decoupled from resource consumption. She also mentioned the circularity gap and that currently the main focus on the circular economy relates to recycling. She believes that business models are needed to transition from a linear to a service system.
Magnus believes there will need to be some level of growth in the future to improve the prosperity and well-being of the population. He considers a key mechanism to achieving climate goals is through international cooperation both within the EU and globally.
Cecilia emphasised the importance of focusing on minimising the environmental impact at the design stage of products to lengthen the life of the product, with higher quality, using recycled fibres and brands collecting and re-using discarded products. There is a need for global agreements not just relating to energy but also water, chemicals and biodiversity.