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How will COP26 impact your business?

Reporting on how agreements made at the recent climate conference will affect companies involved in the production and retailing of footwear.

by Nicola Pichel-Juan

Image © | Petmal

The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, otherwise known as ‘COP26’, was a prevalent topic across the media in November 2021 as governments, non-governmental organisations, trade unions and other interested parties came together in Glasgow to work towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Paris Agreement signed at COP21 in 2015 was in itself a significant achievement, with more than 200 countries agreeing for the first time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming below 2˚C – and ideally to limit it to 1.5˚C. COP26 was seen as a key milestone for nations to review and strengthen their current emissions targets and to keep alive the goal of restricting global warming to no more than 1.5˚C.

Negotiations took place between 31st October and 13th November, resulting in the signing of The Glasgow Climate pact by almost 200 countries, with 90 per cent of the world now covered by net zero targets for greenhouse gases (up by 30 per cent from two years ago). Among other agreements made at the summit were commitments to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 – signed by more than 100 nations, including Brazil, China, Indonesia, the US and the UK – and a deal announced by 103 countries to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent by the end of the decade.

What is net zero?

Being ‘net zero’ means not adding to the amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide), in the atmosphere by reducing emissions or removing an equivalent amount. In terms of footwear, the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions come from the materials and components used, as well as the production processes involved. Many brand owners, retailers and suppliers are already working to understand and subsequently reduce their emissions.

The effect on the footwear supply chain

In order to achieve the ambitious targets agreed at COP26, all industries, businesses and individuals will be affected, and it is likely that there will be increasing legislation relating to both compliance and reporting. For example, from 2023 the UK Government is proposing that larger companies and financial institutions will have to declare publicly how they will transition to net zero in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero target. It is inevitable that this is going to be passed down through the supply chain, with all companies in the supply chain being asked to provide information to demonstrate that they are working towards net zero.

Further pressure will come through a commitment known as the ‘London Declaration’ which was approved in September by ISO members. As a result, climate change considerations will be included in all new standards and retrospectively considered for all existing standards when they come up for revision checks.

Finally, brand owners and retailers are likely to experience increased push-back from consumers seeking reassurance that the products they are purchasing have been produced in an ethical and sustainable way. A recent consumer survey in the UK cited that 60 per cent of consumers are more likely to purchase a fashion product if it has sustainability certification, with 40 per cent actively looking for sustainability certification or relevant labelling.

Against this backdrop, it is more important than ever that companies have traceability and transparency throughout their supply chains, to enable them to identify and measure the impacts of their products and operations and to work to actively reduce and eliminate emissions.

How can we help?

SATRA members are invited to email for assistance with understanding their carbon impacts.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 22 of the December 2021 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

Other articles from this issue »