H&M Group Tops Emissions Reduction Progress Rankings, Yet Many Challenges Remain

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Key Point of this Article

  • H&M Tops the Percentage of Progress in Reducing Emissions

– H&M Group has been named the top brand in the “Fossil Fuel Free Fashion” ranking by environmental group Stand.earth. The report recognizes progress in reducing emissions and transitioning to renewable energy.

  • Brands Evaluated and Results

– The survey included 11 brands: H&M, Puma, Nike, Levi Strauss, Adidas, Gap, VF Corp, Inditex, Lululemon, Fast Retailing, and Sealyn. was third with 46.5 points. On the other hand, Sealyn was in last place with 2.5 points.

  • Industry-wide problems and criticisms

– Stand.earth is critical of the fashion industry’s overall decarbonization progress, noting that many brands are not making sufficient financial investments. Shein, in particular, has been criticized for its low commitment to working conditions and environmental issues.

H&M tops the list for progress in reducing emissions

Sweden’s H&M Group announced that it has been named the top brand in the “Fossil Fuel Free Fashion” ranking released in May by the environmental group Stand.earth.

This “Fossil-Free Fashion Scorecard” 2024 report assesses each brand’s progress in reducing emissions and transitioning to renewable energy.

The study covers the 11 most influential global fashion brands, including H&M, Puma, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co, Adidas, Gap, VF Corp. VF Corp, Inditex, Lululemon, Fast Retailing, and Shein.

The report provides a detailed analysis of specific progress, particularly in reducing emissions, phasing out coal use, and transitioning to renewable energy. Each brand’s performance was measured against a path to achieve an equitable fossil fuel phase-out by 2030 and was quantified using data published by manufacturers in each brand’s supply chain.

The following table shows how Stand.earth scored the 11 companies on factors such as commitment, transparency, progress toward 2030, and actions/recommendations on a 100-point scale.

Courtesy of Stand.earth

Within this group, the H&M Group ranked at the top with 59 points. Puma came in second with 51 points, Nike with 46.5 points, Levi Strauss with 37.5 points, and Adidas with 33.5 points. H&M, Puma, and Levi Strauss have also set a goal of reducing manufacturing emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 2018.

Commenting on the results, H&M Group said it was awarded the highest total score “because of our leading supply chain emissions and renewable electricity targets, and for offering the most tangible financial support, supplier engagement and effective supply chain advocacy.”

The group’s Head of Climate and Nature David Dahl also commented: “We are committed to cutting our absolute emissions and achieving net-zero by 2040. The results of Stand.earth’s report shows that we are heading in the right direction. But, there’s still much more to do, both as a company and as an industry. By working together, we could have a deeper impact at a faster rate.”

The six companies at the bottom of the ranking are

The bottom 6th to 10th in this ranking are Gap, VF Corp, Inditex, Lululemon, and Fast Retailing, in that order, with scores ranging from 14 to 20.5.

The Chinese ultra-cheap retailer Shein was the lowest-scoring retailer, with a score of 2.5.

The company is reportedly planning an IPO this year, and a recent survey conducted by Public Eye, a Swiss advocacy group, found that its factory workers keep being forced to work long, grueling hours. The company’s poor working conditions and lack of commitment to environmental issues have long been criticized in the industry and the Stand.earth survey further highlights this.

In addition, Stand.earth’s report described that “Shein’s absolute emissions increased by nearly 50% (from 6.04 to 9.17 million tons of CO2e) in just one year to 20221, more than the annual emissions of the nation of Paraguay.”

Industry-wide problems and criticisms

Stand.earth also noted, “The 2023 Scorecard found pockets of progress, but found that companies provided no or little detail on the incremental steps they are taking to advance a renewable energy transition, and meaningful financial investment by the majority of brands was desperately lacking.”

Rachel Kitchin, senior Corporate Climate Campaigner at Stand.earth and the report’s lead author, states: “The good news is that progress is happening. The bad news is that that progress is being undermined by dangerous pollution from ultra-fast fashion, and the growing threat of greenwashing. Simply put, most brands are not yet on track to decarbonize and many are heading in the wrong direction, and no matter the price printed on the tag, people and the planet are left to pay the true costs. These big players in the fashion industry must show leadership by rapidly phasing out fossil fuels and investing in tangible, renewable energy solutions,”

“Right now, manufacturers are acting as ‘the fall guy’ for fashion’s climate pollution, while the brands pocket the profits from a safe distance. Brands’ failure to take responsibility for their emissions by funding and enabling the transition to renewables, while continuing to make more stuff, will mean more fossil fuel dependence in the Global South where their products are made, and cause harmful health and climate impacts for decades to come. Brands need to pay for the changes they demand by financing the renewable energy transition in their supply chains, and be more transparent about who their suppliers are and where they are located,” added Kitchin.

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