Why Levi Strauss has Toughened its Sustainability Targets

Levi Strauss & Co has gained SBTi validation for its net zero targets, including for its tougher supply chain and Scope 3 goals and new emissions measures

Levi Strauss & Co has strengthened sustainability targets and expanded its emissions data collection as it seeks to 'drive deeper impact' into its ESG work.

The apparel company, named last year in the top 10 sustainable clothing brands by Sustainability Magazine, says the SBTi review made it reflect on its 'footprint, progress and ambitions'.

Writing on LinkedIn, CSO Jeffrey Hogue said: “There are challenges, but we will leverage innovation, supplier engagement, sustainable sourcing and industry collaborations to drive the progress we need to see while strengthening business resilience.”

Levi Strauss & Co. CSO Jeffrey Hogue

What is the background?

Jeffrey said the new targets are the next step in a journey that began in 2021, when Levi Strauss & Co announced it was focusing its sustainability efforts on three pillars — climate, consumption and community.

He said: “As we formulated that framework, climate was the obvious starting point. That’s because we know climate change is the existential challenge of our time, and that we, as a leading apparel company with a global supply chain, have to do our part.”

He added that the company is “proud and gratified” to have had its net zero goal for 2050 validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

But he said: “This is about more than just the numbers, though. As we approached the mandatory five-year review SBTi requires of companies with regard to their emissions reduction targets, we took the time to reflect on our footprint, our progress and our ambitions – and we could see that there was a way to drive deeper impact in our work.”

The new targets

Jeffrey explained that the new approach comprises tougher targets and bold approaches to data.

They include:

  • Aligning supply chain emissions reductions pathways to be consistent with limiting temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C
  • Updating the near-term Scope 3 goal base year from 2016 to 2022
  • Introducing a new absolute emissions reduction commitment of 42% by 2030.

Jeffrey said: “So, from a previously SBTi-approved goal of 40% Scope 3 absolute emissions reduction by 2025, off a 2016 baseline year, we are now targeting a 42% Scope 3 absolute emissions reduction by 2030, from a baseline year of 2022.

“To say it another way, we will reduce absolute Scope 3 emissions by 42% from what they were in 2022.

“As of 2022, we had already reduced Scope 3 emissions by 23% from our original 2016 baseline year and we are committed to maintaining our progress to meet an additional 42% reduction between now and 2030.”

The changes do not affect Levi Strauss’ SBTi-approved Scope 1 and 2 targets to reduce absolute emissions by 90% by 2025 against a 2016 baseline.

Levi Strauss & Co. has new sustainability targets

What do the changes mean?

Jeffrey said the new targets and baseline year move Levi Strauss “onto the same time horizon as other apparel companies”.

He said: “The new baseline year, along with improvements in data collection and modelling over the past decade, means we can more accurately reflect our company's operations and climate impacts by including land- and agriculturally-based emissions.

“Critically, this also means we are moving on to the same time horizon as many other apparel companies, including many that operate with the same suppliers we do.”

This means Levi Strauss can engage in 'stronger collaboration with industry peers and supply chain partners to unlock leverage for progress and drive greater impact for our company, our value chain and the apparel industry'.

Jeffrey said this could include efforts to help factories transition away from coal, increase renewable energy use, upgrade facilities and collect better primary data to identify changes, progress and additional areas for improvements.

Finally, he said the company would, in the coming months, release its Climate Action Transition Plan for 2030, “providing greater detail on the steps we will take on our own and in collaboration with others to meet these new targets".

“These efforts must keep building on each other and we have to view progress not as an end, but as a reason to aim higher and be bolder.”

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