This Sunday, October 31st, marks the start of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, and it couldn’t come sooner. Delayed a year by Covid-19, COP26 will bring the 196 signatories of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement together in Glasgow to revisit the terms agreed upon six years ago. The aim? To keep global warming below 2°C - preferably 1.5°C. But, with global warming heading for 3.2°C by the end of the century, only seismic change will steer us to safety. And, not just from those in Glasgow.
To prevent global warming going above 1.5-2°C, we need to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. And, according to the IEA, two-thirds of that is down to us. Me, you, our neighbours, friends and family. It’s clear that if we don’t change our own habits, then there’s little chance of change at all. So, let’s start with our wardrobes.
The fashion industry’s carbon footprint is more than all international plane travel and shipping combined. It has the second highest water footprint, contributes 20% of all global waste water, and is responsible for a third of all microplastics in the ocean. And, it’s not slowing down. By 2030, clothing consumption is predicted to increase by 63% - that’s 500 billion more t-shirts. 500,000,000,000 tees worth of clothing in that time, driven entirely by our demand.
Sustainable fashion consultant, writer and editor Alec Leach conveys the danger we face if we do not change our consumption habits.
The good news is, we can turn that around. Associate Professor Helen Powell from the LSBU says that our individual efforts on a daily basis will have far more power than any attempts to reduce the environmental impact of clothing by politicians. Changing your habits will change the world. Buy fewer clothes with quality that lasts. Look after your clothes when you wear them or pass them on. Call out your favourite brands. Ask them what they’re doing, and demand change when you see it lacking.
Whether it’s flights, food or fashion, we must all make sacrifices for others. This is not just a problem for politicians, or the struggle of distant shores. The climate crisis is all around us, and if we don’t act now, tomorrow will be too late. At Brothers We Stand, we will continue to educate and support you in your efforts to lower your fashion’s footprint. For now, COP26 is an opportunity to stop, reflect and re-energise our efforts to keep ourselves and our planet safe.