Governments and the fashion industry must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency (CEE). Governments, fashion media, fashion councils and brands must recognise the impacts of the fashion industry on the planet, including but not limited to: environmental degradation, pollution of seas and waterways with chemicals and micro plastics, air pollution, deforestation and biodiversity loss. Fashion brands must admit accountability and work towards full transparency throughout supply chains. They must also tell the truth about the exploitation of people in the fashion industry, especially farmers, producers and factory workers in the Global South.
Governments and regulatory bodies must take legislative action to force a ‘clean up’ of the fashion industry. The fashion industry must be properly regulated to ensure that environmental degradation and biodiversity loss is halted and that the human rights of garment workers are protected.
Currently political power in the UK is in the hands of a small group of elected politicians who fear that drastic action will prove unpopular and lose them the next general election. The same politicians are lobbied by huge corporate interests to protect certain industries, to the detriment of progress and reform. This system of power is proving incapable of bringing about change on a scale and timeframe that is necessary to prevent climate catastrophe. Governments must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
Climate change is a social justice issue. Those that are most exposed to the impacts of climate change (such as sea level rise and water scarcity) are almost always the least culpable and most vulnerable. The majority of fashion consumed in the UK is manufactured by marginalised people and communities in the Global South who are adversely affected by ecologically damaging textile manufacturing processes and lack of access to safe working conditions or fair wages. As the UK fashion industry benefits economically from this system of trade, the onus is on our government to take responsibility and redress this injustice.