A study conducted by Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute and Schroders has revealed that extreme weather conditions, including heat waves and floods, pose a significant threat to the apparel industry.
This $26.78 billion industry in Bangladesh, among others, is at risk of severe disruption by 2030.
The study pinpointed four countries crucial to global fashion production – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan, and Vietnam – as facing potential losses of $65 billion in export earnings and 1 million jobs by the end of the decade.
Bangladesh, with its $26.78 billion apparel industry, is particularly vulnerable, followed by Cambodia ($6.75 billion), Pakistan ($7.59 billion), and Vietnam ($24.77 billion). These nations rely heavily on apparel exports for economic growth.
Among the cities identified as climate-vulnerable manufacturing centers are Karachi, Colombo, Managua, Mauritius, and Dhaka. These regions are most susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change on apparel production.
The study highlighted a critical issue: the apparel industry’s current risk plans largely ignore adaptation measures, as their primary focus is on mitigation. This oversight poses a significant challenge to safeguarding the industry against climate-related disruptions.
To address these challenges, the report calls for climate adaptation finance that redistributes costs and risks away from vulnerable apparel workers. This approach aims to ensure that those most affected by climate change in the industry receive support and protection.
The study conducted a comprehensive comparison of future temperature and flooding estimates in 30 apparel manufacturing hubs worldwide. Additionally, it examined how climate change is already impacting workers in the four at-risk countries.
In response to these findings, the study recommended a series of changes to be implemented by unions, employers, governments, apparel buyers, and investors.