Paris deal must protect our supply chains, says clothing giant

EXCLUSIVE: Bold commitments on adaption and mitigation will be needed in the final Paris agreement to make global supply chains more resilient, a senior executive from the clothing industry has warned.

Letitia Webster, the senior global director of corporate sustainability at VF Corporation – which owns Timberland, The North Face and Wrangler, among other brands – told edie that the agreement would not affect the company’s direct sustainability strategy but would be hugely important for its supply chain.

“No matter what happens with the agreement, we’re still moving forward with strong actions,” Webster said. “We’ve got carbon reduction goals in place, a 100% renewable energy target for 2025, and no matter what we’re moving forward with that.

“Really the agreement is about whether they want to make it easy or hard for businesses who want to invest in their supply chains in the developing world.

“If negotitators can make funding available for developing countries to become more resilient and set clear signals about renewable energy targets, then businesses like ours can start making informed investment decisions.”

Clear signals

Webster said that companies supported the delivery of $100bn climate finance every year for poor countries from 2020. Some of this money will be used to help countries protect against climate impacts (‘adaptation’), so that supply chains are less affected by floods droughts and extreme weather.

Some of this money will also go to cutting emissions (‘mitigation’) in the form of investments in low -arbon technology and infrastructure. Setting aside money for green investments and establishing clear targets will give businesses more confidence to invest in their own low-carbon projects.

As an example, VF recently made a commitment to source 100% renewable energy by 2025. The company has already started on the pledge with onsite and offsite projects, Power Purchasing Agreements and procurement contracts, but Webster said an ambitious Paris agreement would smooth the process.

“We have 1,600 facilities in more than a hundred countries, and when we know what those countries are doing around renewable energy, we can start making informed decisions on how we procure energy, or generate energy in that region.,” Webster explained.


Webster’s hopes were answered on Wednesday (9 December) by an announcement in Paris made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who doubled the US contribution to the fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change to $860m.

The money is specifically to aid adaptation efforts and is separate to the $3bn the US has already pledged to the Green Climate Fund, which will focus on mitigation. World Resources Institute president Andrew Steer said the US announcement would generate momentum for similar action from other countries as the talks reach their climax on Friday.

The final COP21 text will be presented in Paris tomorrow. Stay tuned to edie for full coverage.

Brad Allen

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