What you need to know, currently.
“Eco-conscious” fashion brands, like Nike and H&M, can continue to increase their greenhouse gas emissions, despite the sustainable and climate-positive image they’ve been displaying to consumers.
The fashion industry is greenhouse gas intensive, with its estimated emissions ranging from 2 to 8 percent of the global total. So, many brands have signed up to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a nonprofit that helps companies self-disclose their environmental impacts, in an effort to be more transparent.
However, according to reporting by the Guardian, the fashion industry’s true environmental impacts are being hidden behind a sneaky scorekeeping system, where fashion brands’ gross global emissions are calculated against total revenue.
In other words, as long as a brand’s increase in emissions is less than their increase in total revenue each year, their annual carbon dioxide emissions are marked as a decrease and the CDP gives the brand a high score.
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which sets the standard for measuring emissions, categorizes them into Scope 1) emissions that directly come from the company burning fossil fuels; Scope 2) emissions that come from purchased energy, like electricity, heat and cooling; and Scope 3) all the other indirect emissions that occur.
For the CDP report, companies are only required to provide their gross global Scope 1 and 2 emissions and then self-report whether the combined emissions are more or less than their revenue increase.
Nike’s self-reported carbon dioxide emissions increased 164% from 2015 to 2021, from 17,975 metric tons of carbon dioxide to 47,398, respectively, according to the Guardian. Similarly, H&M’s increased from 10,723 in 2015 to 11,973 in 2021 – a 12% increase.
Therefore, a relative decoupling is occurring, in which companies work to increase their efficiency, rather than decrease their emissions.
As a result, the planet suffers.