Monday, May 20, 2024

Kering Partners On Climate Research as Ganni Eyes 11 ‘Fabrics of the Future’: ‘Optimism Remains’


Gucci parent Kering is teaming up with the National University of Singapore Business School’s Center of Governance and Sustainability to study corporate climate strategies as Ganni details the ‘long road ahead’ on its sustainability efforts.

The French luxury group Kering, parent to Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, and Creed, among others, has been vocal about its sustainability commitments in recent years. “Luxury and sustainability are one and the same,” says Reflecting this deeply held conviction of François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s CEO. The group says sustainability is at the heart of Kering’s strategy and a leading force in its near €20 billion in sales last year.

Now, with its new research initiative in partnership with the National University of Singapore Business School’s Center of Governance and Sustainability (CGS), Keringsays it will delve into the intricacies of nature and climate strategies within 14 jurisdictions in Asia-Pacific. This endeavor aims to evaluate existing practices and strategies, and to identify necessary areas of improvement. Insights gleaned from the research will then be shared with business leaders, investors, and policymakers, enhancing understanding and action in both the public and non-profit sectors. This aligns with Kering’s ongoing commitment to promoting education, innovation, and collaborative efforts to foster long-term environmental sustainability.

“At Kering, we believe in the power of collective action as seen through our robust network of partners in several regions around the world. Today, I am proud to announce our partnership with CGS at NUS Business School, which combines academic rigor, research expertise, and real-world experience – key levers for a successful impact. The sustainability challenges we face today are complex, and by partnering with an outstanding university renowned for its expertise in sustainability topics, we are exemplifying the Group’s commitment to collaborate with partners on the Asia-Pacific region’s sustainability journey,” Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer of Kering, said in a statement.

A$AP Rocky.
A$AP Rocky for Gucci | Courtesy

Last month, Kering said that in order to achieve its long-term vision, it invests in the development of its Houses, so that they “continuously strengthen their desirability and the exclusivity of their distribution, strike a perfect balance between creative innovation and timelessness, and achieve the highest standards in terms of quality, sustainability, and experience for their customers.”

Professor Lawrence Loh, Director of the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at NUS Business School, emphasized the foundational role of nature in all economic activities. “Nature underpins all economic activities and human well-being. Therefore, the disclosure of nature-related practices and strategies is crucial to provide transparency and accountability for a company’s environmental impact and sustainability practices,” Loh said. “Through the partnership with Kering, we are poised to drive meaningful change by developing a baseline for measuring biodiversity tracking and examining climate transition strategies across diverse industries. This is a significant step in encouraging the integration of nature-centric approaches into corporate strategies, fostering a more sustainable and resilient future for all.”

Ganni’s Responsibility Report

The news comes as Danish luxury label Ganni, a certified B Corp, published its fifth annual Responsibility Report detailing its climate action and sustainability strategy, which it introduced last year. Dubbed “Gameplan 2.0,” founder Nicolaj Reffstrup called it the “guiding north star” in a recent LinkedIn post. According to Reffstrup, the label is committed to a 50 percent absolute carbon reduction by 2027 from a 2021 baseline, through its “7 by 2027” carbon strategy.

“Despite the challenges 2023 has thrown our way, my optimism remains,” Reffstrup said. “We have a long road ahead, especially in the realm of circularity, but our commitment to pushing forward and making strides in our responsibility strategy is stronger than ever. This journey hasn’t been easy.” Reffstrup called the label’s commitment a “major relief” because, he says, “I’ve been championing this agenda at Ganni personally for years and urging others to invest in this space.”

In addition to its carbon reduction commitment, Ganni says it successfully eliminated virgin leather from all collections, shifting toward “preferred alternatives,” instead. It introduced new best-seller products such as the Bou Bag using next-gen materials as alternatives to virgin leather, “proving that we can create a viable business while pushing forward with our sustainability goals.” Its materials innovation commitment saw seven partners in 2023, accounting for one percent of all products produced last year. “[W]e have some way to go but it’s a good start,” the report reads. The label scaled its use of Renewcell’s Circulose fiber, which it credits for making up a large portion of its alternative fibers. But that may prove to be a challenge moving forward after Renewcell filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Ganni's Polybion jacket.
Ganni and Polybion’s bacteria-based leather jacket | Courtesy

Other innovative materials used last year included Ohoskin, Polybion’s Celium, Biofluff’s Savian, Modern Synthesis, Algreens Tech and Cycora by Ambercycle. Ganni says it has identified 11 Fabrics of the Future for 2024 “that we believe are closer on the journey to commercial scale.”

The label also expanded its living wage initiatives to three strategic garment manufacturers, aiming for full rollout across all contractual suppliers by 2025. It added a “Carbon Squad” to foster its decarbonization efforts, and installed solar panels with two new suppliers, among other achievements.

Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor

According to the 2024 Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor (CCRM) report, which analyzed the climate strategies of 51 prominent global companies, the median commitment to cut emissions across their full value chain by 2030 was only 30 percent. The findings revealed a modest improvement in the collective climate ambitions of the companies surveyed, focusing on their 2030 and net-zero targets over the past two years. Despite these gains, the efforts are insufficient to meet the global emission reductions necessary to keep global temperatures from rising less than 1.5°C, the report noted.

“We’re seeing improvements from a very low baseline,” said Gilles Dufrasne, lead on global carbon markets for Carbon Market Watch and a co-author of the report. “There’s still quite a big gap between what they’re pledging to deliver and what they’re actually delivering.”

Biofluff Ganni bag in pink.
Ganni’s Bou Bag in BioFluff’s pink faux fur | Courtesy

One growing concern is the momentum behind proposals that would allow more flexibility in how companies meet their Scope 3 emissions reduction targets. Such flexibility risks diluting the already weak commitments by some companies, effectively undermining their stated climate objectives. The analysis also touches on the role of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), the foremost authority in validating corporate climate goals. The comparison between SBTi’s assessments and those from other evaluators reveals a troubling leniency in current validation practices, suggesting a need for significant improvement.

Of the companies surveyed, only eight have 2030 emissions reduction targets that are of “high or reasonable integrity.” Danone, Mars, Spanish electric utility Iberdrola, and the automaker Volvo Group were the only companies that provided concrete plans for reaching their targets while others like automaker Volkswagen backed away from targets with no plans to reinstate them. Furthermore, the report highlights uneven progress across different industries, questioning the real ambition behind companies’ publicized climate goals. Many firms continue to invest in questionable practices such as Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS), standalone Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), bioenergy, and other forms of carbon dioxide removal, which may act more as sidesteps rather than genuine attempts at reducing emissions.

The CCRM underscores a critical flaw in the existing framework for corporate climate accountability. Current systems are compromised by conflicts of interest and corporate influence due to the lack of proper institutional separation. This underscores the urgency for transitioning from voluntary measures to binding, enforceable regulations to ensure genuine corporate accountability in climate action.

Wind turbines.
Photo courtesy Appolinary Kalashnikova

But experts say efforts like those by Kering, Ganni, and other high-profile corporations are essential to move the needle. “If these companies had very concrete, detailed plans to get to even a 20 percent reduction by 2030, I’d feel a lot more comfortable than vague commitments to get to 43 or 48 percent,” John Reilly, a senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, told Grist.

Reffstrup says these efforts are indeed a challenge for companies eager to do better. But the payoff is worth it. “Being deeply involved, I know firsthand how tough it is — the investment it requires, the unknowns we need to navigate, and the constant fear of not meeting expectations,” Reffstrup said. “It’s like building the plane while flying it; there are no guarantees. Yet, the grit and conviction we hold bring us to moments like this, where I feel energised by the achievement of our seven percent absolute carbon reduction compared to a 2021 baseline. It’s a testament not just to our efforts but to what’s possible for the wider industry. We need to continue on this path, proving that sustainable change is achievable.”

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