PARIS – Kering is pledging to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent.
The parent of Balenciaga, Gucci, Saint Laurent and other luxury brands aims to make those cuts in absolute terms by 2035, using 2021 emissions as a baseline. Forty is a key number for Kering, which in 2017 laid out a 40 percent reduction in environmental footprint by 2025, a goal surpassed this year.
The new reduction targets will include its own operations and its external value chains, covering scopes 1, 2 and 3 under the GHG Protocol in an effort to decarbonize the company and its suppliers.
“We are setting this new absolute target, spanning scopes 1, 2 and 3 of the greenhouse gas protocol, because if we want to truly decarbonize our global businesses, we need to move from carbon-intensity reductions to absolute reductions. I am convinced that impact reduction in absolute terms combined with value creation must be the next horizon for truly sustainable companies,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering chairman and chief executive officer.
Speaking to WWD, chief sustainability and institutional affairs officer Marie-Claire Daveu delved into the company’s ambitious cuts.
“When you look at what is happening all over the world linked with climate change, we would want to go a step further. We are really taking into account all the greenhouse gas emissions which are linked with our production,” she said.
Looking at the company’s previous targets, Daveu noted that they were focused on “intensity,” but that if companies continue to grow, so do their emissions. This new target makes a direct connection between Kering’s growth and its GHG emissions, and caps it.
That means the company will have an overall emissions pie, with various brands adding to the mix. As emissions are upped in one category or brand, the company will make cuts or compromises elsewhere. Daveu emphasizes these reductions will be achieved without using offsetting, and adds that large-scale events, such as a destination fashion show, are taken into account.
“Most people are speaking about ‘intensity,’ so to change to a target that is in absolute value is very important,” she said. “For us, it’s a game changer.”
Each brand will have the same 40 percent target and timeframe, though Kering is approaching each brand differently and working with specialized teams within each brand. Fashion and fine jewelry have vastly different needs, she noted, particularly with waste, and those tradeoffs will “have to be very pragmatic” within the company’s overarching conglomerate structure.
And, pragmatically, that will lead to new business models and a different approach to pricing.
“In the luxury sector, we prioritize value and less volume. It’s also a way to increase the craft and sophistication of your product, increase the quality, durability and to develop more exclusivity for your clients,” she said. “At the end of the day, you increase also the pricing. So this is where you make the correlation between the growth of the business and the de-growth of the greenhouse gas emissions. It will be in the DNA of the price.”
The target will require overhauls and upgrades of of many systems, Daveu said. These include an AI solution currently in a trial phase to better predict production quantity and product mix, and to increase the quality of raw materials. Design teams will be tasked to improve the durability and recyclability of its materials, and embed circularity into products.
“Because it includes scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3, we will also have to work with our suppliers to continue to push them to have and to use more sustainable materials and more sustainable processes,” said Daveu, citing as an example energy and emissions cuts at the factory level. “Then we will have to put that to scale. For me, that’s key.”
The company unveiled its Circular Lab in Milan under Gucci in February, and Daveu said developing new ways of using and reusing materials in a closed loop will be a major pillar of the reduction. She also cited Balenciaga’s mushroom-based Ephea, and Gucci’s biobased wood pulp, wheat and corn material Demetra, as two examples of more eco-friendly textiles the company has developed that can be taken to scale. The company is also working with VitroLabs to create lab-grown leather.
Kering is working with 255 startups on innovations from the raw-material stage to end-of-life, up from 120 two years ago.
Daveu said she hopes the idea of reducing GHGs by absolute value will “change the mindset” in the fashion industry. “I’m sure that it will become the way of thinking, not only for companies, but also for people. You have to plan in comparison to something else, but at the end of the day, you have to be responsible for how many tons of C02 you emit.”
Daveu added that the biggest challenge is implementing in various jurisdictions that have varied regulations. She compared that to when she first took on the role in 2012 and launched the idea of the Environmental Profit and Loss account in 2015.
“People have conviction about the fact that we have to act, and the diagnosis is very clear. Ten years ago when I joined the company that was not the case,” she said. “Now it’s not a question of what the challenge is, it’s a question of speed.”
Kering is to release its full EP&L on March 22, 2023.