MILAN — There is no time to waste.
Following Gucci’s decision earlier this month, parent group Kering will today reveal it is also committing to becoming carbon neutral across the board and throughout its entire supply chain. A pioneer in engaging in sustainable practices, with this latest development the French group is pledging to offset its annual Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from 2018.
“When it comes to climate change, we can no longer wait to take real action. We all need to step up as businesses and account for the GHG emissions that we generate in total,” said chairman and chief executive officer François-Henri Pinault, who on Sunday evening received the Visionary Award during the Green Carpet Fashion Awards ceremony in Milan. “While we focus on avoiding and reducing our GHG emissions to meet our Science-Based Target, we will offset all our remaining emissions and support the conservation of vital forests and biodiversity around the world.”
Starting in 2015, the Science-Based Target aims to reduce by 50 percent all of Kering’s GHG emissions related to its own operations and supply chain by 2025.
Kering’s commitment is an extension of its annual offsetting approach established in 2011, leveraging its Environmental Profit and Loss accounting to analyze the group’s GHG emissions, including the base of its supply chain. The data has allowed the companies under Kering’s umbrella — ranging from Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga to Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Brioni — to put in place customized and efficient supply chain initiatives to reduce its emissions.
Kering spearheaded the “Fashion Pact,” signed by 32 companies and presented by Pinault in August at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, pledging to eliminate single-use plastics, use renewable energy and promote regenerative agriculture practices, among other commitments.
To offset the group’s 2018 GHG emissions, Kering is investing in REDD+ projects that conserve critical forests and biodiversity, and support the livelihoods of local communities. The 2018 offsets will equal nearly two million hectares of important forests around the world that help remove carbon from the atmosphere and mitigate climate change. REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation and is a mechanism developed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Gucci is also taking action and is concretely supporting the following REDD+ projects by investing $8.4 million in the following:
• Located in the Peruvian Amazon, the conservation of the Alto Mayo Protected Forest over 182,000 hectares against illegal logging and unsustainable farming practices;
• Located in Kenya, the protection of about 410,000 hectares in the Chyulu Hills volcanic mountain range, largely water-deficient and part of the greater Tsavo Conservation Area, a critical wildlife corridor between Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks and an area home to both Maasai pastoralists and Kamba agriculturalists;
• In Indonesia, the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve aims to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and protect the endangered Borneo orangutan, and other IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List species, by preserving 65,000 hectares of tropical peat swamp forest;
• In Cambodia, the Southern Cardamom project protects 445,000 hectares of the critical tropical rainforest in the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot.
This week, Gucci chairman and ceo Marco Bizzarri provided a video contribution during The Nature-Based Solutions Coalition of the U.N. Climate Action Summit, which highlighted the critical role of nature for climate action and the pathways to unlocking nature’s full potential for mitigation and adaptation to deliver the Paris Agreement and carbon neutrality by 2050. Convened by the U.N. Secretary-General, the summit featured heads of state and leaders from international organizations.
In an interview with WWD on Monday, Bizzarri said that the brand’s fashion show a day earlier for the first time had also been certified carbon neutral, organized according to the ISO 20121 international standard that defines the sustainability of an event by measuring its environmental, social and economic aspects. “The purpose of the event, the set, the number of guests and where they came from, all was taken into consideration and a calculation was made to offset that impact,” said Bizzarri. To this end, 2,000 trees will be planted in Milan, as part of Mayor Giuseppe Sala’s project to plant three million trees within the next 10 years in the city. Bizzarri also noted that the materials used to stage the show were sent back to the suppliers and will be recycled.
“For the time being, I don’t see an alternative to the shows, which convey the idea of the quality of the work, a narrative, and is a deadline that stimulates the designer’s creative instinct,” said Bizzarri.
Likewise, the executive underscored the nature of the business and the need to protect the company’s jobs. Miuccia Prada earlier this week also addressed the contradiction of consumerism and production versus social responsibility.
Bizzarri outlined Gucci’s three pillars — the environment, the communities and technology. “Of course, if we closed down the company, we would have zero impact on the planet but 18,000 people would not have a job,” he said. For this reason, there is an urgency in the need to find ways to reduce the impact, accelerating innovation, the circular economy and new processes. “Technology is not as fast as the climate change, but we can’t just sit still and not do anything. We have set long-term targets, but the world is burning. We don’t have time, we can’t wait until 2050, what can we do in the meantime?” he said.
Gucci is also supporting start-ups, working on developing in-vitro leather, for example, but Bizzarri said the quality is not up to standard yet. “Of course [scientists] will get there and this will affect the supply chain, the tanneries and they will have to reconvert,” he said.
Bizzarri acknowledged the meaning of carbon neutrality is not widely understood. “It’s a mathematical calculation of the impact that is not sustainable, and we base it on our EP&L. Perfect or not, it’s a way to address the issue, and the trickiest part is the calculation on the supply chain. That’s why we are now increasingly buying laboratories, to have more control, also because if they are small they may not have the funds to invest in sustainability.”
The ceo also admitted the need to always ask questions about the direction and the initiatives for better results. “We are completely transparent and we are happy to receive suggestions. It’s not mine or Gucci’s race; we are big but we can’t fix the planet,” he said, emphasizing the importance of the “Fashion Pact” and Pinault’s role in underscoring the importance of sustainability as far back as 2009 with the production of the “Home” documentary directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand on how humanity is threatening the ecological balance of Earth.