BP’s £2bn profits cause anger amid climate crisis. Meanwhile at The Global Fashion Summit…
BP has angered many by reporting profits of £2bn for the second quarter of the year as the climate crisis triggers extreme heatwaves around the world. These “obscene” profits come at the expense of families and the environment.
Iain Black, professor of Sustainable Consumption at Strathclyde University notes, “In a dangerous piece of short-term politics, this reactionary lurch will perpetuate the fossil fuel cost of living crisis that is brutalising families and destroying businesses across Scotland. It will achieve nothing for energy independence considering the decades it will take to pump the type of oil we don’t use. In fact is designed to perpetuate energy dependency in the hands of a few.”
Dr Black calls for markets such as insurance, food and drink and tourism to speak up and show that their ESG mission and targets mean something. He adds, “Oil and gas dependency drives up costs and destroys the ecological value upon which financial value depends and it’s time is up.”
Meanwhile, the annual Global Fashion Summit convened last month in Copenhagen. The summit discusses the sustainability of the fashion industry, calling on brands and retailers, materials and tech innovators, in addition to some policy makers being in attendance.
For another year running, question marks surrounded the narrative: Why aren’t emissions decreasing? Why is overproduction being ignored? Why is a living wage for garment workers apparently impossible? When will fashion be circular?!
According to Forbes author Brooke, notably absent from the summit were discussions of the dreaded "O" word = overproduction.
Commonly, when addressing efforts to reduce emissions, brands will share their commitment to hitting science-based targets. If asked about overproduction you would be lucky to get any response. When the topic of circularity is brought up, brands will only commit to repair, resale or take back schemes, all of which are within their control, despite them not having any material impact on their reduction in emissions, despite the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees…
Hakan Karaosman, Assistant Professor at Cardiff University, Chief Scientist at FReSCH and a good friend of our Co-Founder told summit attendees, “There are some problems in our industry that we need to talk about urgently.”
Dr Karaosman who has been researching three-tier supply chains and told the crowds that he is witnessing brands switching suppliers to cut costs which often forces manufacturers, commonly in developing countries, to cut corners on safety and sustainability in order to compete.
He reminded them, “Supply chains need to be understood as dynamic, socio-ecological systems where we undertake holistic actions to empower supply chain communities, rather than coming up with ways to reduce reputational, financial and economic risks. ”“We have no patience or appetite for top-down conversations and we do not want passive participation mechanisms; on the contrary, we want to participate, ask questions and have a say in these conversations,” he says.
A report from Aberdeen University and the advocacy group Transform Trade found that brands were paying below the costs of production and 1 in 5 factories in Bangladesh struggled to pay their workers the minimum wage of £2.30 a day.
Dr Karaosman urged brands to collaborate more with their manufacturers to find sustainable solutions, noting that many suppliers often have solutions for waste and water usage but are frequently ignored by brands.
Tricia Carey of Renewcell broached the topic of circularity and explained why textile waste is a valuable resource for creating high-value outputs. Vidiya Amrit Khan of Desh Group of Companies added that off-cut textile waste sent to Europe from Bangladesh to be valorised is a loss for its origin country. In fact, undermining that country’s ability to create economic value within its own garment sector. This shone a light on a mismatch between the Global North’s circularity ambition within the sector (recycling all clothes the consumers discard) and the reality, which is that European countries don’t collect or sort discarded clothing properly. Thereby meaning they need to source textile waste from manufacturing countries instead.
There was much discussion around how the Global South, those impacted most by climate change, were being heard. The summit received critique about how ‘global’ the summit actually was. Those in attendance questioned how effective brand stakeholders from the Global North were in discussing sustainability, when majority of the industry’s supply chains are in the Global South.Dr Lewis Akenji, managing director of Berlin-based public interest think tank Hot or Cool Institute, whose landmark report Unfit, Unfair, Unfashionable went viral last year for its direct take on degrowth; noted, “At an oversized contribution of up to 10% climate-warming carbon emissions, and on course to double by 2030, there is no alternative to reductions in volumes of production. Recycling and technological efficiency improvements would hardly cut it.
Yours mindfully, consciously and sustainably,
Beira team xx