By Rachel Koning Beals
Protest planned at Vancouver headquarters, but company says it is working to phase out all direct coal use
Lululemon, the yoga and fitness clothing brand, finds itself in a difficult position.
The Canadian retailer’s (LULU) sustainability website and its impact report updated this week include dates and targets for reducing its emissions and promote a business “deeply connected to ourselves, the to each other and to our planet”. But it has agitated some yoga enthusiasts because the mostly Asian factories that make its leggings, sports bras and hoodies often rely on dirty coal to power their sewing machines.
Stand.Earth, an activist group, has helped organize protests at select Lululemon stores, but Saturday will take its march, and what it hopes will be a big demonstration by yoga enthusiasts, to Lululemon’s Vancouver headquarters. .
In addition, some 1,000 yoga teachers and students in 28 countries – some of whom act as Lululemon brand ambassadors – have so far signed an open letter asking the retailer to source from factories using renewable energies (ICLN).
“Burning coal to make ‘Hotty Hot’ hoodies and high-waisted pants is unacceptable,” a yoga instructor said in the open letter.
Coal – whose historical use to power power grids has largely given way to natural gas, wind and solar in many countries – still sees its demand rise and fall based on the comparable costs of others sources of energy and political will. It remains a popular option in China, India and elsewhere.
Coal accounted for more than 40% of overall growth in global CO2 emissions in 2021, according to data from the International Energy Agency, as rising demand has strained the power grid. Energy pressure from Russia as part of its invasion of Ukraine has also pushed more coal into the mix in Asia and parts of Europe, which are struggling to get enough natural gas and are not fully converted. in alternative energy.
Environmental groups believe the private sector can do more, and not soon enough.
“Companies and businesses have a vital role to play in our transition from fossil fuels and in protecting our health and future from the impacts of climate change. But while the urgency is clear, Lululemon continues to rely on heavily polluting coal-fired manufacturing plants to produce its products,” Stand.Earth said in a statement in June, when it launched a protest at a Chicago Lululemon store.
“The solution is for Lululemon to publicly commit to phasing out coal and moving to 100% clean, renewable energy in its supply chain by 2030. Despite record growth and high profit margins, and unlike other major sportswear and fashion brands like Mammut, Kering, and H&M, all of which have committed to powering their supply chain with 100% renewable energy,” Lululemon fell behind, accused the band.
A company spokesperson told MarketWatch in a statement that Lululemon remains “focused on helping to create a sustainable apparel industry and addressing the serious implications of climate change through goals and strategies that include a rapid transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency”.
The company said last year it met its goal of sourcing 100% renewable electricity to power all owned-and-operated facilities, and exceeded its 60% target with an absolute reduction of 82%. Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions at all owned and operated facilities. facilities operated. Scope 1 emissions are those that a company creates directly in its operations, while Scope 2 covers the impact of the energy it uses. .
The retailer and other businesses are facing increasing pressure to improve control over the tougher Scope 3 emissions, which cover supplier impact on customers. Emissions, or pollution generated when burning oil and gas, are the main cause of global warming. This warming, in turn, raises sea levels and worsens severe weather, costing lives and economic well-being.
“We know the majority of the impact is on Scope 3 GHG emissions, including industry supply chains, and we are committed to continuing to innovate throughout the supply chain and are actively working with industry partners to be part of the solution,” Lululemon said. the spokesperson said, listing the groups he has joined, such as the United Nations Fashion Charter for Climate Action and the Fashion Climate Fund run by the Institute for Impact. clothing.
The company said it was part of working groups “engaging with selected suppliers to phase out all direct use of coal, among other initiatives that drive the transition to renewable energy,” but it did not set. timetable for ending its coal affiliation.
“They really stand out with a huge disconnect between what they say they enjoy and what they do,” said Laura Kelly, campaigns manager at Action Speaks Louder, which organizes the campaign alongside the UK-based Stand.Earth. North America, to the Guardian. .
“Nearly half of the energy that powers Lululemon factories comes from coal,” Kelly said. “But you’d be hard-pressed to find a company that says it’s more ethical.”
-Rachel Koning Beals
(END) Dow Jones Newswire
09/14/22 1928 ET
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