Climate Crisis Is Being “Ignored” by Fashion, According to Report, and It Could Cost Billions

by | Sep 30, 2023 | SOCIAL IMPACT, SUSTAINABILITY | 0 comments

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The concerns from New York Fashion Week attendees about the heat are insignificant compared to the future, according to a recent study by the Global Labour Institute at Cornell University and the international investment management company Schroders.

Based on the supply chains of six major international clothing companies, the paper examined the climate-vulnerability of 32 garment manufacturing hubs and four important apparel-producing countries. Although there are hazards everywhere, several places that stand out for their “vulnerability” include Colombo, Managua, Chittagong, Port Louis (Mauritius), Yangon, Delhi, Bangkok, and the Donguuan-Guangdong-Shenzen provinces of China. Cornell University and Schroders carried out the study, with financial assistance from the Laudes Foundation and Schroders.

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According to the analysis, excessive heat and floods would cause “significant disruption days and production losses,” which will slow down the expansion of the business and jeopardise $65 billion in garment exports by 2030, or a 22 percent reduction. As a result of this delay, around one million fewer employment are predicted.

According to a research by Jason Judd, executive director of Cornell University’s Global Labour Institute, “everyone involved in global apparel production—workers, manufacturers, regulators, investors, and brands themselves—is seriously at risk from flooding and excessive heat.” But nobody is accounting for the consequences of climate breakdown in the real world while making plans. The main focus of the garment industry’s and regulators’ climate responses has been on mitigating factors like as emissions, water use, and recycled textiles. The environment challenges that are now having a significant and direct impact on suppliers and their employees are being disregarded. The nightmarish environment of the Global North is already evident in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia, and other places. There will be severe hardships in these and many other hotspots where clothing firms and stores rely on for manufacturing, not to mention at work.

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Last year, Pakistan was already hit hard by historic floods, and earlier this year, Dhaka had an 11-day heatwave with highs of 104.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the absence of action, employees in these areas are more susceptible to physical obstacles (flooded roads, for example) that make it difficult for them to go to work as well as a rise in diseases like dengue fever and heat exhaustion. According to the research, productivity losses in only two locations might account for up to 5% of overall operating income.

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The results highlight how companies must adopt a proactive rather than reactive strategy. In order to support norms and procedures for heat and floods, enforcement actions, and worker social protection systems, efforts are being made to mobilise climate financing.

“Adaptation investments and measures need to be written into the plans of apparel companies and brands,” Judd said. “Adaptive investments in factories can help stabilise productivity. Some examples include green certifications, cooling technologies, like LED lighting, industrial and exhaust fans, green or shaded roofs, enough work breaks, and enough water facilities.”

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A lot of launches, such as the Conscious Fashion Campaign, which advocates for gender parity in the fashion industry via a series of legislation and billboard media blitz, are scheduled to coincide with New York Fashion Week.

He went on, “Our choice to release the report this week is unrelated to New York Fashion Week.” “It took over eighteen months to complete the study, during which time the world’s heat and flooding problems became increasingly severe. This is especially important in light of the summertime wildfires that happened in North America and Europe.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, the sponsor of the “Fabric Act” bill, said that the measure’s reintroduction was deliberate. “We intended it to take place during fashion week.” It occurs when people from all around the globe join the sector.Now is a great moment to make these concerns more prominent.

According to the senator, the pro-labor measure includes a number of “industry fixes,” including the removal of piece-rate pay, shared responsibility, and the appointment of a new undersecretary of labour.

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“Basically, it’s the same bill,” she said to Ozifox. “We removed one tax provision that the industry believed to be unworkable.” (She is referring to the tax incentive for 30% on-shoring, which was eliminated based on industry input and practicality.)

There is a nationwide labour movement rebirth, which makes this law very relevant. It’s critical that we elevate labour,” she said.

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On Tuesday, eighty workers’ rights advocates gathered on Capitol Hill to support the government reshoring initiative in the fashion industry. In addition to expressing broad support for the labour movement, the senator emphasised that this investment also includes women, who are the foundation of the sector.

Gillibrand emphasised that she is in contact with bipartisan cosponsors and is hopeful about getting more support.

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