Marco Gobbetti: Burberry’s race to climate positive by 2040

By Climate Champions | November 6, 2021

British luxury fashion house, Burberry has announced a strategy to protect, restore and regenerate nature. In line with its commitment to become climate-positive by 2040, the new biodiversity strategy will entail expanding support for farming communities, applying a nature-based approach in its own value chain and developing regenerative supply chains.

Earlier this year, the Climate Champions caught up with Burberry CEO, Marco Gobbetti to discuss the challenges and opportunities of bold and accelerated industry action beyond net zero.

What’s Burberry’s new climate ambition?

We have pledged to go beyond net zero and become climate positive by 2040. By setting this ambitious new goal to reduce emissions within our value chain and invest in initiatives beyond it that support a resilient, zero carbon future, we hope to create a lasting positive environmental impact and help safeguard our planet for future generations.

What’s the most challenging aspect of decarbonization and the pursuit of a climate positive company?

Decarbonization relies on everyone across the fashion value chain sharing the same belief and going on a journey together at the same pace. We have made really strong progress within our own operations, but to shift from ambition to action across our whole value chain we need to inspire others and share and scale new solutions. We have spent time, working closely with our suppliers and partners to ensure this is a challenge we can all jointly take on.

From your experience, could you talk about the benefits – beyond environment – that net zero and climate positive ambition gives to a company? 

We see the achievement of net zero emissions as an investment in Burberry’s future. It will make our operations sustainable and our supply chain more resilient, and it will improve our ability to manage any future impacts of climate change on our business.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to make more sustainable choices. In a luxury business, that includes designers and creatives right through to the finance and logistics teams. To create systemic change, everyone needs to go on the journey together. Everyone at Burberry is passionate about driving this shared outcome.

How are you ensuring your supply chains remain climate resilient over the decades to come? 

We understand the importance of addressing long-term potential impacts of climate change on our business and building resilience in our operations and supply chain.

We have developed a scenario-based analysis of climate-related risks and focus on steps we can take to address our emissions in line with our Climate Positive goal and Science Based Targets.

There’s a long way to go before 2040, which is why we’re putting ongoing monitoring, tracking and yearly reporting in place to continuously hold ourselves and our supply chain partners to account.

From your perspective, what does modern luxury mean?

We want Burberry to mean something to people because shared values are the bedrock of communities. Beauty, heritage, craft and quality are all essential ingredients of luxury, but they are no longer enough. To truly connect and stand out you need to be authentic and in constant dialogue with your surroundings. You need to be clear about what you stand for. It is a new dimension of luxury and one we firmly believe Burberry is uniquely placed to address.

Why do you think more brands aren’t setting robust enough net zero targets?

Some companies may be hesitant to take that first step and embark on a journey if they don’t have all of the answers. But taking that first step is so important. You have to be ambitious if you want to drive change. We hope to inspire others to take action to decarbonize the sector.

Who do you think leads: brands or consumers?

Our ESG agenda is an expression of what we believe is important. It creates a deeper meaning for our brand and a deeper connection with our communities. Both influence one another but you have to be guided by your own purpose as a brand to have impact.

Could you tell us a bit about Burberry’s relationship to Race to Zero?

We’ve been aligned to Race to Zero since 2019 when we set our ambitious net-zero and Science Based Targets. We recently partnered with Race to Zero and the UNFCCC to launch the Decarbonizing Fashion Milestones Document, which sets out short, medium and long-term actions needed to reach net-zero.

We urge everyone in our sector to join the Race to Zero. Initiatives that convene the industry are so important for driving meaningful change at scale.

What role do you think Burberry has in shaping the mainstream consciousness? 

As a leading luxury brand with a global footprint, we are in a unique position to bring together NGOs, peers and policymakers. We are already active members of the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action and the Fashion Pact. These and other initiatives provide an important forum for collaboration, from leadership right through to sustainability and supply chain experts. It is this kind of engagement that is needed.