the sac blog

Event Recap: GHG Emissions Deep Dive Session with The Industry We Want

June 1, 2022


On May 12th, 2022 The Industry We Want (TIWW) hosted a webinar called “Deep Dive on the GHG emissions metric and score.” The SAC is proud to partner with TIWW on an industry dashboard that tracks three metrics: GHG emissions, purchasing practices, and living wages in order to function as an annual ‘temperature check’ and help the industry stay in line with continuous improvements. SAC is leading the GHG emissions metric in partnership with our ecosystem partner Apparel Impact Institute. 


Hosted by Karen Diaz, Project Manager at TIWW, the webinar speakers include:

  • Michael Sadowski, Research Consultant, World Resources Institute 
  • Joël Mertens, Director, Higg Product Tools, Sustainable Apparel Coalition


During the session, Michael and Joël explored key findings of the World Resources Institute (WRI) report Roadmap to Net Zero and went into a deeper discussion about how we are setting the industry’s baseline for GHG emissions and the interventions needed in order to deliver on a 45% reduction by 2030– an ambitious, urgent and necessary target. A key takeaway was the importance of utilizing the measurement tools at our disposal today, whether or not they may be perfect, because these tools  guide us towards actions we need to take now. 


To catch the replay, watch below:


Read on below for some key takeaways from the session: 


How did you decide on which data sets to use for this metric? 

The data in the industry needs to improve. We need to get better with data, and this is why we chose to use Textile Exchange and the Higg Index MSI data because we feel it is the best data set going forward. We were very clear in the report about why we use this data, and we’re very transparent in how we put these numbers together. – Michael Sadowski 


The Role of Higg MSI in Collecting Data for the GHG Metric

We looked at where there are good metrics in terms of what’s being used by the industry. One of those key pillars is the fiber consumption data that the Textile Exchange published on an annual basis. And if we know the fiber data, then we can start to look at what that means in terms of processing that fiber into yarns, into textile materials, and ultimately into finished products. This is one of the areas where Higg MSI data is really well suited for this type of analysis. A lot of the process data in Higg MSI is meant to represent industry average, so we took the information from Textile Exchange and made some assumptions around what that means in terms of the apparel sector. – Joël Mertens


Sector Emission Estimates

The analysis in the WRI report is based on data from Textile Exchange and the Higg MSI.


It’s important to note that, like with all approaches, there are going to be limitations, and this applies to any kind of footprint you’re trying to calculate. One of those is that the emissions factors may not always be representative of actual industry initiatives or practices. However, we have what we think is the best available data, [with the awareness] that there are also a lot of processes that aren’t currently captured in the MSI. One of the advantages of looking at the process chain level is that it highlights opportunities for further data enhancement so we can start to see where the biggest gaps are. 


Based on the level of information that we had to create this industry benchmark, you can only show improvements in the data points that you’re actually measuring and managing. If we’re looking at the secondary data, we need to be able to break it down further. In order to get a better benchmark we really need more (and better) primary data. This is why we have the MSI Contributor to really be able to work with the industry to see where the gaps are, how we fill those gaps, and where improvements need to be made. By driving better data, we’re going to be able to drive a more accurate emission profile for the sector. – Joël Mertens


Emissions: Results and Projections

Based on the Higg MSI and Textile Exchange data, we came up with an estimate of just over a gigaton of CO2e [in total emissions]. If the industry keeps growing on the same trajectory, the industry will be heading towards 1.588 gigatons. We’re off pace if we continue this business as usual, so this is that gap that we have to address. – Michael Sadowski 


Call to Action

In 2019, the World Resource Institute (WRI) and Apparel Impact Institute (Aii) published a report that functions as a guide for apparel and footwear companies to set science-based climate change interventions. These Science-Based Targets (SBTs) are in line with keeping global warming well below 2 degrees, (and ideally below 1.5 degrees) Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. 


To date, there is enormous progress in setting SBTs, starting from a dozen companies to now well over 200 companies with approvals or commitments to SBTs within the apparel and footwear industry. While this is progress, we urgently need to scale and accelerate collective action. To read the report and learn about the six interventions in materials and productions you can take today in contributing to the decarbonization of the industry, read here.  


To stay updated on industry progress, learn more about the TIWW dashboard here.