Fashion titans H&M Group and Bestseller have joined forces with the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) to develop the first offshore wind project in Bangladesh to help streamline the sector’s transition to renewable energy.
Pledging to invest up to 100 million US dollars towards this new collaborative effort, announced at COP28 on December 5, the initiative could pave the way for more significant investments aimed at decarbonizing the fashion and textile industry supply chain.
Still in its early development stages, the Bangladesh wind project aims to use near-shore wind turbines off the coast of Cox’s Bazar to provide sustainable energy to Bangladesh’s power grid. If approved, the offshore wind farm aims to start operations in 2028 and reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 725,000 tons each year. The wind project, with a 500 MW capacity, aligns with Bangladesh’s objective of fossil fuel independence, promoting job creation and bolstering energy stability.
Fashion giants join forces with the renewable sector to decarbonize production in Bangladesh
“We are firmly committed to improving our climate footprint and to supporting and accelerating the green transition in the fashion industry,” said Anders Holch Povlsen, CEO and owner of Bestseller, in a statement. “Helping to pave the way for a sustainable energy infrastructure in Bangladesh is one of many steps we can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our indirect value chain.”
Initiated by the Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), a leader in renewable green investments, the CIP is set to work closely with authorities in Bangladesh and other key strategic partners to continue the development of the project. In order to ensure the initiative is greenlit, necessary analysis work needs to be carried out alongside a series of environmental tests.
Part of a broader initiative from the GFA to unite key global fashion industry players to steer the sector towards a more sustainable future, there has been a recent emphasis on expanding renewable energy in manufacturing countries. “Renewable energy availability is a necessity if we are to truly transform the emissions trajectory of the fashion industry, and collective action is essential to realizing this,” said Thomas Tochtermann, chairman of GFA, in a statement.
With the 100 million US dollars commitment constituting part of the total wind project investment, the amount is the largest sustainability investment made by Bestseller in the company’s history. “We are delighted to work closely with leaders in the fashion industry,” said Niels Holst, partner and co-head of the Growth Markets Fund at CIP, in a statement. “If successful, the Cox Bazar Wind Farm and the collaboration with GFA, Bestseller, H&M Group, and other fashion brands will represent a transformative model to progress a just and rapid energy transition in a number of the most vulnerable and carbon-intensive countries.”
Helena Helmersson, CEO of the H&M Group, highlighted how this collaborative approach to sustainable financing solutions and policy work is streaming efforts to overcome industry challenges linked to climate change. “The nearshore wind park in Bangladesh is an important step for the transformation of the Bangladesh renewable energy market, and we believe that this will contribute greatly to the decarbonization of the garment industry as a whole,” said Helmersson in a statement.
Within the global fashion industry, indirect GHG emissions from areas such as material production and manufacturing often constitute 90-95 percent of a company’s total emissions. To mitigate these, Bestseller is working with suppliers to set reduction goals and shift towards renewable energy, exemplified by their 2022 initiative aiding Bangladeshi textile manufacturers to invest in solar panels.
“Reducing our climate footprint and, in particular, reducing the indirect emissions in our value chain, where emissions are largest, is a significant challenge for both our company and the entire global fashion industry,” added Anders Holch Povlsen in a statement. “It is important to acknowledge that we still have a long journey ahead of us and that there are many necessary and important steps to take. One of them is to invest significantly and ambitiously in Bangladesh, as we are doing now.”