Environment

With COP26 Failing To Address the Commitments Required by Our Climate Crisis, Is It Time Fashion Looks to Others for Guidance?

With COP26 Failing To Address the Commitments Required by Our Climate Crisis, Is It Time Fashion Looks to Others for Guidance?

I am curious to know how Palt feels, not only because I am a strong believer that businesses have a huge part to play in driving change, but also because her reputation precedes her. “I have mixed feelings about COP26, because the pledges and the commitments show that there is more awareness, and everybody understands that we have to take this seriously. That’s the positive part,” she tells me. “The less positive part is certainly that there are missing concrete commitments for 2030. How are we going to make this happen?”
Sand artwork highlights climate change ahead of COP26. Photo: Getty
How do you measure success? Which metrics and data do you use to know that your commitments are bearing results and are not just a greenwashing exercise? “When we define sustainability targets, we know what the science tells us needs to be done,” Palt says. “And once we have defined that, our targets get aligned with that. I like ambitious targets. Sometimes it means you are not going to achieve every single thing. They are visionary targets – but then you must give yourself the means of achieving it. It takes leadership, courage, and transparency to manage transformation.”
By now you should all know that for me and everyone at Eco-Age, sustainability is as much about environmental justice as it is about social justice. I am used to hearing companies talk about the environmental impact of what they do – look at Kering Group, for example, with its groundbreaking environmental profit and loss reporting. But what about the social side? Palt agrees. “This sustainability transformation is going to happen in a just way only if we accompany it with more social measures, because as long as people are living in survival mode – without adequate food, schooling, or healthcare – they will not protect the environment.”

I’ve never heard much of this kind of reasoning, and Palt intrigues me. “I want to act for change,” she continues. “We can have philosophical discussions, but when you look at what needs to be done in the next 10 years, you have a much more realistic chance of turning the boat around if, instead of focusing on getting out of the economic system that we have, we work to transform it to a circular model. If you are going to tell people, ‘You need to drastically change your lifestyle,’ they won’t do it. You need to tell them, ‘Keep enjoying life, but you now buy this bottle made of recycled plastic or you have to refill this chargeable container.’ We need the consumer to start following us and adopting new practices.”
Alexandra Palt
For me this has always been where the truth lies. Fast fashion companies use the excuse that it’s not up to them to stop producing tons of clothes, because the consumer keeps wanting to buy more. When I mention this to Palt, she pauses for a moment. “Consumers ask for more sustainability, but there is an incoherence between what they say and how they act. I think that’s normal when social change is happening. And I agree with you, some people use that as an excuse to keep doing business as usual. But the discrepancy between knowing and doing is getting smaller.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that unfortunately it is taking more time than we have. L’Oréal is doing a lot of different things to contribute to this awareness, and we also have a role to make responsibility aspirational. We have created a consortium to exchange information with the other big players in the industry to help create a level playing field with one common science-based methodology, and one way to talk to consumers so they can compare the environmental footprint of all products without getting confused. This is fundamental.”

Hearing this makes me realize once again how much fashion is lagging and losing momentum and opportunities to align and drive change. Why is fashion always so slow? I ask Palt – a woman and lawyer by training – what’s the biggest lesson she has learned working in this field. “Coming from the NGO sector, I never expected that L’Oréal would move so fast, so much. And what I learned in the beauty industry is the complexity of the mind of the consumer.
We invest so much time and money in, say, developing refillable makeup, and then the consumer says, ‘Thank you, but no thank you.’ The human brain is complicated. My challenge now and the big question I have is, are we going to be able to deploy the speed and acceleration necessary to manage the big change we need?”
If I look at what happened at COP26, my answer is definitely no. But talking to Palt gives me hope that beauty, truly, lies in character. And if this is the character we need to bring about the transformation needed, let’s clone her and get the job done.
Originally published in the December 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia

Burberry Makes History with this Groundbreaking Pledge

Burberry Makes History with this Groundbreaking Pledge

Riccardo Tisci at Shotover House in Wheatley, Oxfordshire, UK
Burberry announces today that it pledges to become the first Climate Positive luxury brand by 2040. This development follows the house’s original pledge to be net-zero by 2040. “I have always had a very deep, emotional connection to nature,” states Riccardo Tisci, chief creative officer at Burberry. “It has a power and a purity that gives you a sense of coming back to yourself and of what is really important in life. I am so proud that as a company we are making these inspiring steps to protect our beautiful planet and the future for our next generations.”
Burberry, a British house founded in 1856 by Thomas Burberry and which holds two Royal Warrants (1955 and 1990), commits to cutting emissions across its extended supply chain by 46% by 2030 and developing projects which support others in their respective carbon journeys. It also announces its support for the Fashion Avengers, a coalition of global fashion organizations that have come together to inspire action towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Burberry VP of Corporate Responsibility Pamela Batty discuses the pledge with Vogue Arabia
What does “climate positive” actually mean?Becoming Climate Positive means going one step further than our existing 2040 net-zero pledge. To achieve this, we will not only work to reduce emissions within our own value chain, but we will also invest in initiatives and projects that support wider climate change efforts beyond our business – including programs that protect and restore natural ecosystems that remove carbon from the atmosphere – which we hope will have a lasting positive environmental impact for future generations.
Can you list some of the major challenges that will make this a 19-year process?There are several challenges associated with reaching Climate Positive. It requires real system change, but this can be solved by collective action and industry collaboration, which is why we’re calling on the rest of the industry to join us in accelerating our shared efforts. We’ll also focus on supporting the many businesses in our supply chain who will be essential to what we’re trying to achieve, and constantly stepping up how we measure and report on our progress.
Finally, it’s crucial that we continue to adapt to what our customers want and expect from us, all while continuing to meet our targets. We see this as an opportunity for innovation and creativity: to find new ways to produce items our customers love while also protecting the planet.
What is the Burberry Regeneration Fund?The Burberry Regeneration Fund was set up in 2020 to support a number of carbon offsetting and insetting projects, which enable us to store carbon and promote biodiversity, facilitate the restoration of ecosystems and support the livelihoods of local producers. Rather than simply purchasing offsets to cancel out our impact, we invest in insetting projects, reducing our emissions and storing carbon at source in our own supply chain.
For our inaugural project, we are partnering with PUR Project to design and implement regenerative agricultural practices with its wool producers in Australia. The project works at farm level to improve carbon capture in soils, improve watershed and soil health and promote biodiverse habitats.
You have stated that this is a bold new standard for luxury. Does this mean that no other luxury brand has a project on par?To our knowledge, we’re the only luxury fashion brand to have set ourselves a climate positive and net zero target by 2040. Our hope is that following our pledge, others in the industry will feel inspired to follow suit and take action to decarbonize the industry and align with the Paris Agreement. That’s why we’re active in several networks which aim to drive bolder and faster progress – like the UNFCCC’s Fashion Charter, the G7 Fashion pact, and the UN Race to Zero.
READ NEXT Vogue Arabia and Saudi Ministry of Culture to support emerging designers with the launch of Saudi 100 Brands

PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com