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This Is How Textiles Can Get Emissions Under Control by 2030

The purpose of Textile Exchange’s “Vision 2030 Climate+” plan–to be a driving force for urgent climate action in textile fiber and materials production–was the topic of a plenary session at the group’s virtual Sustainability Conference last week.

Dubbed “Decade to Change: Delivering on Climate+,” the panel discussion features speakers addressing ways to achieve the goal of enabling and guiding the textile industry to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the next 10 years.

“We’re committed to being a driving force for urgent climate action in the textile fiber and material production,” Claire Bergkamp, chief operating officer of Textile Exchange, said. “We will enable and guide the industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 in the pre-spin phase of textile fiber and material production.”

Bergkamp said 45 percent is an ambitious target and presents a significant challenge, but Textile Exchange also knows there are proven solutions and that together the industry can meet the goal.

“We know that we have to work together to meet this goal and this strategy is grounded in partnership,” she said. “We realize that to tackle the climate crisis we have to think about things holistically. We know that we’re going to need to regenerate and restore nature, and with a focus on water biodiversity and soil health, we think we can do this.”

Discussing the scientific basis for the 45 percent target, Michael Sadowski sustainability consultant for Textile Exchange, said that to prevent 1.5 degrees Celsius in warming, global CO2 emissions must fall by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050.

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Rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities will be needed to limit warming, and sequestration, or pulling carbon out of the atmosphere, will be a necessary piece of reaching that temperature goal, Sadowski said.

He said research project objectives involve evaluating and setting science-based fiber and material targets for the industry, defining the milestones for the 45 percent reduction of GHG emissions and identifying strategic partners to support the Climate+ goals for the industry.

In addition, getting to 45 percent will require more complete and robust data, increased uptake of recycled fibers, spreading regenerative practices, mitigating land use change, supporting a transition to renewables and encourage innovation and circularity, Bergkamp said.

“We know innovation is going to be needed in materials, farming practices and sequestration,” Sadowski said. “It’s not just carbon we’re getting after, we’re getting after Climate+. So, we shouldn’t be doing things that have a negative impact on biodiversity, on water, on chemistry. We have to think about how do we reduce emissions, while at a minimum not impacting those other areas.”

Bergkamp said Textile Exchange is going to be focusing on creating specific production strategies across the core fibers.