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A Pledge to Climate Change - The difficult Regulation of a Worldwide Issue

Image by LEANDRO AGUILAR from Pixabay

It’s time for more Climate Change talk. Last week I published an article covering just how Climate Change came about and why exactly we hear more about it now than ever before. I figured now would be a good time to talk about its regulations and the difficulties in doing so.

I decided that the best angle to look at this from was to consider it from a specific industry, then zoom the magnifying glass out to consider it from actual state regulation before finally taking a quick look at what exactly the world has done for this issue. After all, there’s a law for nearly everything in the world (including carrying a plank of wood along a pavement in the UK) and climate change is no different.

The Threat of Fast Fashion

It’s become fairly well known just how much of a threat fast fashion is to climate change. (Case in point, the same amount of water that the average person could drink in 900 days would go into the production of just one T-shirt from your extensive collection of tees that you don’t need and inevitably join your pyjama pile.) But what exactly is the industry trying to do to regulate this?

I tried to conduct some research on regulations and rules that some fast fashion producers have, but surprisingly I couldn’t find much except for pledges and declarations. Inditex (the company behind well-known fashion stores like Zara and Bershka) aimed to reach a goal of zero discharge of undesired chemicals and make 100% of Zara stores eco-friendly by 2020. They also pledged to reach net zero carbon emission by 2040. It has been noted that they are working on a programme to help them better classify which chemicals they use in the manufacturing process. Their goals are in line with their Clear to Wear health standard, a reference manual with their regulations, legal limits analysis methods, etc. This standard was updated in 2021 after the company evaluated over 1,800 substances and introduced the Physical Testing Requirements standard. According to their report, they conducted 792,582 tests and analyses.

That’s a lot of promises. But how much did that actually achieve? Greenpeace commented on Inditex’s compliance with their goals to completely cease using perfluorocarbon compounds. But it’s not all rosy hills and green grass. Four firms from Inditex including Zara Home, Bershka and Pull & Bear had to pay a large sum of financial penalty for failing to comply with the UK’s waste packaging regulation put in place to protect the environment.

The first step to efficient regulating climate change for a business is certainly to deduce what kind of risks it could have to the climate besides the obvious one. If you follow this link and go to page 23, I think you’d find a great start at doing exactly this.

The Government’s Take

So it seems that most corporations get their regulations directly from what the UK Government require them to do. Besides that, the best they do is offer pledges to make their company more climate friendly in varying amounts of time. Considering this, I decided we should probably stop and take a look at the UK Government themself. What regulations do they have in place, besides the ones that have been mentioned previously?

Well surprisingly enough, the UK Government actually has a specific law for Climate Change - the Climate Change Act 2007. One of the biggest things to take out of this law is their goal by 2050: to reduce carbon emissions by 100% than the 1990 baseline (the net emissions of Carbon Dioxide and net UK emissions of other specific greenhouse gases for that year or another specified). The year 1990 was picked because it is the baseline under the Kyoto Protocol. If you’re curious, the UK’s net Carbon Dionxide emissions for 1990 was 9.72 metric tons. For comparison, this number had dropped to 5.40 metric tons by 2018.

New legislation published by the UK Government officially makes them the first G20 country to publish official legislation for UK corporations to mandatorily publish any of their risks and opportunities related to Climate Change. This is in line with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. These rules started in April 2022, but companies including Tesco, Aviva, and Unilever had to fall in line before that. The recommendations by TCFD can be found here, and they separate them into four categories: governance, strategy, risk management and finally metrics and targets. Some of the recommendations include disclosing the company’s method of identifying climate change risks and also disclosing the scope 1, 2 and potentially 3 greenhouse gas emissions with the related risks.

Worldwide Regulation?

The problem with worldwide issues vs law is jurisdiction. America can’t make law for the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom can’t make law for Eygpt, etc and so forth. When making law, the law covers only that institution’s jurisdiction. And that, in turn, creates an issue: how is a world supposed to make a law to protect itself from a global issue, when every governmental institution is going to have its own ideas, issues, and concerns when creating the very law to do that?

The answer is by agreements. Sitting around a table, arguing a bit, and finally coming to a conclusion. Pretty much the same as every issue, really. And that’s how the Kyoto Protocol was created. It was adopted on the 11th of December 1997 and was enforced on 16th of February 2005. It commits those countries who agreed to it (there are currently 192) to limit and henceforth reduce greenhouse gas emissions with agreed individual targets.

Another international agreement includes the Paris Agreement, a legally binding treaty adopted by 196 parties. The goal of the Paris Agreement is to reduce global warming by at least 1.5 but preferably 2 degrees celsius. Parties do this by creating nationally determined contributions (NDC’s) that cover their personal plans and goals to reduce climate change. The agreement also encourages countries to create long-term greenhouse-gas emission strategies. To read more about this agreement you can visit here.

And that’s all for Climate Change regulation! For such a difficult topic to regulate, I'd say the world is where it needs to be. Attempts are being made, and it's hard to really say if they're good or bad. What's important is that everyone does the best they can, and adapt to any new regulation concerning climate change as it releases.

After all, the key to tackling climate change, is the effort that everybody puts into it. Even if that effort starts with reconsidering the next Primark tee that you want but definitley don't need, or simply cleaning your rubbish away into the correct recycling bin the next time the sun shines and you visit the local park.

  • Clara (2016) Zara – how to reduce carbon footprint in fast-fashion, one of the most polluting industry in the world, Technology and Operations Management. Available at: (Accessed: October 6, 2022).

  • Product health and safety (2021) Inditex. Available at:,health%20and%20for%20the%20environment. (Accessed: October 6, 2022).

  • Environment Agency, (2021). Top high street chain pays for its recycling error. GOV.UK. Available at: (Accessed: October 6, 2022).

  • Climate Change Act 2008. Available at:

  • United Kingdom. (n.d). Data Commons. Available at: (Accessed: October 5, 2022)

  • UK to enshrine mandatory climate disclosures for largest companies in law (2021) GOV.UK. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Available at: (Accessed: October 4, 2022).

  • Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (2017) Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. Available at: (Accessed: October 5, 2022).

  • What is the Kyoto Protocol? (n.d) Available at: (Accessed: October 5, 2022).

  • The Paris Agreement. What is the Paris Agreement? (n.d) Available at:,neutral%20world%20by%20mid%2Dcentury. (Accessed: October 6, 2022).

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