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Gucci Says It’s Going Beyond ‘Carbon Neutrality.’ Here’s What That Means.

Gucci wants to move beyond carbon neutrality and take what it calls a “nature-positive” approach to climate change mitigation.

On Wednesday, the luxury house unveiled the Natural Climate Solution Portfolio, an “evolution” of its climate strategy that it says will protect and restore critical forests and mangroves, invest in regenerative agriculture within its supply chain and, in the grander scheme, “give back to nature.”

“The evolution of our strategy incorporates a series of clear climate actions that will continue to prioritize reducing our emissions and drawing down CO2, which allows us to maintain carbon neutrality across our entire supply chain,” Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “At the same time, we are investing in regenerative agriculture as an important pillar of our approach.”

The Natural Climate Solutions Portfolio will leverage science to safeguard and revitalize important ecosystems to stave off the effects of climate change while “providing lasting biodiversity and climate benefits for years to come,” he added.

Efforts are already ongoing. Between 2018 and 2019, the company knocked its greenhouse-gas emissions by 18 percent relative to growth. To maintain its commitment to carbon neutrality in Scopes 1 through 3 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, Gucci has translated all remaining 1,369 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the protection of roughly 1.2 million hectares of forests and biodiversity, including the Chyulu Hills REDD+ project in Kenya with partner Conservation International and the Kariba REDD+ project in Zimbabwe with South Pole. (REDD+, which stands for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation,” is a United Nations-backed program that prevents forests from being logged.)

Gucci is also throwing its support behind the Muskitia Blue Carbon REDD+ project in Honduras, also with South Pole, which will protect nearly 5,000 hectares of mangroves and more than 285,000 hectares of forest from deforestation. Mangroves, the brand notes, store up to 10 times more carbon than mature terrestrial forests, yet they continue to vanish from the globe at a rate of 2 percent every year. The United Nations Environment Program and the Nature Conservancy estimate that one-fifth of the world’s mangrove forests, which are situated between land and sea, have been cut down since 1980.

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Meanwhile, as the “first step”in a larger, long-term strategy for regenerative agriculture, Gucci is working on feasibility studies with Conservation International, South Pole and Native to identify and scale up projects that will help it source more regenerative raw materials for its products. Beyond its own supply, the company says it is incentivizing farmers to switch to regenerative culture through “carbon farming” that uses agricultural methods designed to sequester atmospheric carbon into the soil, crop roots, wood and leaves.

By doing this, Gucci says it has enabled woolgrowers in Patagonia to convert to regenerative grazing on 1,800 hectares of grasslands, which will promote soil health, improve water quality, increase biodiversity, hone animal welfare best practices and capture more carbon in the long term.

These activities, the company adds, will “consequently catalyze” more than 32,000 hectares of land managed with regenerative practices and result in an additional 200,000 tons of CO2 sequestered over the projects’ life. Overall, Gucci says it seeks to encourage a shift from the “chemically intensive farming that traditionally produces fashion’s raw materials to agricultural systems that actually replenish and strengthen nature rather than depleting it.”

Gucci is whittling its carbon footprint in other ways. By transitioning to green energy, the brand has avoided 59,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. It has attained 83 percent renewable energy for its stores, offices, warehouses and factories and plans to hit a 100 percent by 2022. In addition, Gucci is supporting its suppliers switch over to green energy through capacity building, it says.

The employment of sustainable processes and manufacturing efficiencies (such as metal-free tanning, Gucci Scrap-less and Gucci-Up) and minimizing waste from manufacturing have nixed 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Similarly, sourcing more sustainably and incorporating organic fibers in Gucci’s collections has curtailed 179,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The company is likewise upping its use of recycled and regenerated materials across nylon, cotton, cashmere, polyester, precious metals, plastic and packaging to “support a circular economy” and deliver carbon savings of 13,000 tons. It was with this goal in mind that it rolled out “Off the Grid,” the first collection from its Gucci Circular Lines initiative to use only recycled, organic or bio-based materials, last June.

Gucci says it also wants to champion new circular business models, such as the pre-loved Gucci digital shop it launched with The RealReal in October. For every individual who consigns or purchases Gucci, the companies planted a tree through nonprofit One Tree Planted to help restore the San Bernardino National Forest in California.

“We want to be part of the solution for nature and climate by mainstreaming practices and systems that will transform nature from being a victim of climate to becoming an actor to change climate, which will ultimately determine the future of our planet,” Bizzarri said.

Gucci made waves in 2019 when it pronounced itself the first “entirely” carbon-neutral luxury house based on a “mitigation hierarchy” to avoid, reduce, restore and then finally offset what it calls “unavoidable emissions.” (Parent company Kering followed its lead a few weeks later.) That November, Bizzarri threw down a “carbon neutral challenge” urging CEOs to take full and immediate responsibility for the total greenhouse-gas emissions generated by their supply chains.