The Better Cotton initiative has issued a warning to world leaders attending the COP27 climate summit to do more to protect the world’s farmers and agricultural workers.
Better Cotton, whose members include global fashion and textile brands, calls for greater collaboration across the sector and its value chains to drive transparency, advocacy and action to support smallholder farming communities.
The organisation argues that climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as a just transition, are only possible if there is sustained investment in regenerative agriculture and sustainable farming.
Alan McClay, CEO, Better Cotton said: “We know that climate change poses a great risk to cotton farmers – with rising temperatures and more extreme weather events like flooding and unpredictable rains.
“We will help on the ground by incentivising farmers to embrace both climate-smart and regenerative agricultural practices, in turn helping cotton communities survive and thrive.”
Better Cotton says that changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, linked to climate change, are likely to make cotton more challenging to grow in many regions in the coming years.
“Expected increases in temperatures and the difference in their seasonal patterns could lead to a decrease in the agricultural productivity of some crops. Lower yields will therefore impact the lives of already vulnerable communities,” added the statement.
“The recent tragic floods in Pakistan illustrate how the cotton sector can be impacted overnight by extremes in weather patterns and affect the livelihoods of millions of people.”
It says key stakeholders, including alliances, trade associations, brands, retailers and governments, must continue to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement to avoid catastrophic climate and environmental tipping points.
“Leaders must strengthen and accelerate climate interventions that support the world’s smallholder agricultural producers before further catastrophic climate change events change the course of many peoples’ lives,” it said in a statement.
Better Cotton says its methods can help mitigate climate change. A recent study, analysing data over three seasons, found that Better Cotton production had 19 per cent less GHG emissions per tonne than comparison production across China, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkey.
It aims to halve the GHG emissions of Better Cotton by 2030, from a 2017 baseline. Four additional targets covering soil health, pesticide use, smallholder livelihoods and women’s empowerment are to be announced early next year.