Leeds at COP26: Dr Mark Sumner on fashion's net-zero key challenges
In this Policy Leeds article, Dr Sumner also delves into why telling people to buy less is not the answer.
From the production of materials to garment disposal, Dr Mark Sumner highlights key challenges that the clothing industry will need to confront to get to net-zero emissions.
With the fashion industry worth up to $2.5 trillion annually and estimated to contribute 7% of global trade, it is one of the largest industries in the world. It is also one of the most complex industries to map with raw materials produced in over 90 countries, and garment manufacturing in virtually every nation – making emissions very complex to estimate.
On the topic of fashion consumption, Dr Sumner states that this “is a reflection of how deeply social humans are”, and that “fashion has historically, and continues to be, a way of creating wellbeing, self-esteem and self-identity.” Thus, telling consumers to stop buying fashion comes into direct conflict with these innate forces.
Dr Sumner also explores how we might be able to accelerate change in the industry, including developing new materials and technologies, and the need for buy-in from brands, retailers and their suppliers to commit to carbon reduction targets and invest in these new materials and technologies.