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Supply Chain
New Climate Action Program Gives Apparel Brands Step-by-Step Guide to Decarbonization

New program from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Nike and Target aims to enable manufacturers on their decarbonization journey.

Last week, at its 2023 Annual Meeting in Boston, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) — a global multi-stakeholder alliance uniting over 280 retailers, brands, manufacturers, governments, academics and nonprofit affiliates — launched the Manufacturer Climate Action Program (MCAP). In collaboration with industry leaders NIKE and Target Corporation, the SAC introduced MCAP as a critical component of its Decarbonization Program — designed to catalyze support and drive the sector toward ambitious and necessary CO2 emissions reductions.

The textile and apparel industry faces the urgent need for collective action to achieve the SAC’s goal of cutting global CO2 emissions by 45 percent by 2030, and ultimately striving for net-zero emissions by 2050.

“As a convener of the consumer goods industry, we have a unique opportunity to rally our community’s collective strength and drive transformative change to set science-aligned targets — averting the worst climate impacts,” said Joyce Tsoi, SAC’s Director of Collective Action Programs. “Through our Decarbonization Program, we co-create solutions and foster collaborations necessary for systemic change within global supply chains — recognizing that addressing this challenge requires that no single entity can tackle this challenge alone. MCAP represents a key initiative — uniting manufacturers globally to accelerate action towards science-aligned emissions targets, significantly reducing global CO2 emissions at scale. By partnering with industry leaders and offering scalable solutions, we can empower our industry to confront emission reductions and instigate the change we need to support low-carbon transition.”

MCAP evolved from both Target’s Supplier Engagement Program and the Supplier Climate Action Program (SCAP), which was co-developed by NIKE and its suppliers and in consultation with World Resource Institute (WRI). MCAP’s mission is to enable manufacturers to start their decarbonization journey by providing an intermediate pathway for them to measure carbon emissions and develop science-aligned targets for Scope 1 and 2, where they have direct control.

Notably, MCAP excludes Scope 3 emission measurements — because they often create a barrier for manufacturers taking steps toward setting science-aligned targets. By focusing on Scope 1 and 2 emissions initially, the program aims to provide manufacturers with a manageable starting point for their decarbonization journey.

MCAP will enable manufacturers to reduce energy use, save money and meet the business expectations of their customers while facilitating the sharing of learning and rapidly scale best practices. The program will take a pragmatic approach, providing a stepwise process to build manufacturers’ capability to accelerate target setting, and comprises four core elements:

  • First, manufacturers set, validate, and disclose company-wide science-aligned emission reduction goals.

  • Second, manufacturers receive recommendations and training on developing climate-risk assessments for their operations — including physical and transition risks, documenting these risks to bridge connections with value chain partners, including brands.

  • Next, manufacturers receive guidance for developing their decarbonization plans — responding to the industry’s growing call for transparency and enabling effective allocation of investments and resources.

  • Finally, fostering a culture of transparency and accountability, MCAP encourages manufacturers to annually disclose their progress and share reports publicly. This commitment to openness will ensure accountability within organizations and nurture a collective culture of growth and innovation.

These four elements form the core of MCAP — empowering manufacturers to take substantive actions in reducing emissions to combat climate change, improving operational efficiency and growth, and further advancing sustainability throughout the industry.

Noel Kinder, Chief Sustainability Officer, at NIKE, Inc, said: “At our size and scale, we have a responsibility to drive impact. With a challenge like climate change, we know we can’t do it alone. NIKE’s SCAP was designed to help suppliers take a leadership role in addressing their climate risk. Working with SAC and Target to develop the MCAP program is the next step in scaling impact across NIKE’s supply chain and the industry.”

MCAP is open to both SAC members and non-members, in a concerted effort to accelerate the number of manufacturers with science-aligned targets. What sets MCAP apart is its comprehensive approach to supporting manufacturers in a stepwise manner. The program meticulously integrates key management tools into the program, tailored specifically to meet the unique needs of manufacturers. These tools include guidance on measuring emissions, assessing risk, benchmarking performance, and leveraging these insights to inform strategic planning.

By establishing these fundamental building blocks, MCAP equips manufacturers with the essential resources they need to develop effective plans and accelerate meaningful climate action.

The long-term vision for MCAP is to help manufacturers eventually secure science-based targets that encompass Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. MCAP serves as the crucial first step on this journey, providing the necessary tools and guidance to propel manufacturers toward a more sustainable and climate-resilient future.

“Supply chain emissions amount, on average, to more than 70 percent of a company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To set, and achieve, ambitious emissions-reduction targets across the value chain, companies need to support their suppliers,” says Liz Cook, EVP for Governance & Development at WRI. “Programs like the MCAP, and companies like Nike and Target, set out to do this by helping suppliers build their capacity to mitigate and become more resilient to climate change. Beyond MCAP, WRI is pleased to partner with NIKE to accelerate renewable energy solutions in strategic global markets — a key strategy for achieving these objectives. This work is critical to scaling climate action globally.”

The SAC acknowledges that the textile industry alone accounts for up to 8 percent of global carbon emissions and is committed to a minimum 45 percent reduction of GHG emissions by 2030. The launch of the MCAP comes on the heels of the newly launched Fossil Fuel Fashion campaign — which highlights the urgent need to extricate fashion from its dependence on fossil fuels, which will be a critical step in decarbonizing the industry. Synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon, derived from oil and gas, will account for 73 percent of fiber production by 2030. While fashion innovators are consistently developing new, plant-based and circular alternatives to these ubiquitous textiles, they still represent a significant revenue stream for the fossil fuel industry — giving it ongoing license to operate in a world needing to rapidly decarbonize.

In the meantime, the SAC is actively gathering manufacturer interest in MCAP and plans to begin program implementation in 2024. Progress of MCAP — including information on how many manufacturers have joined the program and the progress made — will be tracked and shared on the SAC website.