19-23 April 2021: ILO Green Week

“Strategies on Reducing and Utilizing CO2 for Cost Effective Business” Roundtable

As part of the Decent Work in Garment Supply Chains Asia project, the ILO is partnering with the UN ESCAP Sustainable Business Network to bring together the textile and garment sector and the cement industry to share, discuss and further CO2 reduction activities.

This online event is free and open to everyone. Sign up here.


The objective of the ESBN Roundtable is to bring together and engage the textile and garment sector and the cement industry to share, discuss and further CO2 reduction activities. The 2015 Paris Agreement united nearly 200 nations in a commitment to limit global temperature increases to between 1.5 and 2 degrees on pre-industrial levels. To meet this goal requires significant Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reduction in the global economy, 45% reduction by 2030 on 2010 levels, and a net zero global economy by 2050. The Textile and Garment and Cement industries have large emissions profiles that need to rapidly decarbonize. The Roundtable will discuss the clear business imperative in reducing carbon emissions and highlight examples of how these sectors are approaching emissions reduction activities, as well as balancing the social and economic impacts of transitioning to zero carbon business, to ensure a just transition. The Roundtable will also introduce a project proposal titled “Strategies on Reducing and Utilizing CO2 for Cost Effective Business”.


The Asia-Pacific region is set to play a key role in transition toward net zero emissions. Emissions reduction, a just transition and increased climate resilience will all be required to meet the Paris Agreement, but the region is faced with substantial challenges. The region contributes to over half of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), with six out of the ten top global emitters in the Asia-Pacific region, and it is the most vulnerable region in the world to the impacts of climate change. However, these challenges also represent a significant opportunity for regional co-operation to scale up climate action.

To accelerate the transition to clean and sustainable growth in the Asia-Pacific Region, private sector driven innovation is a necessity. Large scale industries need to reduce their formidable carbon footprints, and SMEs who are at the heart of economic activity must implement sustainable production processes that reduce the high levels of resource depletion, waste and pollution, that are currently causing irreversible environmental degradation and climate change. There is an opportunity for SMEs to be a strong part of a paradigm shift toward a carbon neutral future.

Adoption of strategies to reduce and utilize carbon emissions among existing industries is a cost-effective way toward more sustainable development. These strategies aim to reduce CO2 emissions from point sources such as industrial processes, to prevent the release into the atmosphere. Examples include resource efficiency activities from energy efficiency, renewable energy, adopting circular economy principles; new environmentally sustainable materials and processes and the phase out of unsustainable and hazardous materials and chemicals; sustainable technologies such as machinery and processes that reduce and recycle water and chemical and minimize air pollution; and CO2 capture and utilization innovations where captured CO2 is converted into commercial products. These emission reduction activities by the private sector, including SMEs, have spurred the development of innovative and costeffective actions, products, and industries while limiting emissions to the atmosphere. However, as we look to Covid-19 economic and industrial recovery with both financial and natural resources becoming even scarcer and more expensive, it is and will be increasingly difficult for the poorest and least developing countries to purchase and access resources, making it time to turn to available and innovative and implementable strategies.

Clear opportunities for reducing emissions exist in increasing the energy efficiency of facilities and processes, shifting, where possible, to renewable energy, pursuing circularity and new business models for product longevity and reuse. For example, there are new innovative processes such as using technology that pressurizes CO2 so that it becomes supercritical and allows dye to readily dissolve, so dyes need no chemical processing and can enter easily into fabrics. The process uses no chemicals or water, produces no wastewater, requires no drying time because the dyed fabric comes out dry, and 95 per cent of the CO2 is recaptured and reused, so the process is a closed loop system. Because the dye is used so efficiently and there is no wastewater treatment needed, costs are reduced by 40 to 60 per cent. Additionally, the process can be employed anywhere, since it doesn’t require water.

For the textile and garment sector, amid the current demand-side crisis and national lockdowns that COVID-19 has brought, industry investments in greener and cleaner production have become even more difficult as cash strapped firms focus on immediate term business survival and continuity strategies above all else. However, the current crisis also provides an opportunity for the industry to rethink the environmental weaknesses of the current supply chain model, and to step up efforts to restructure the sector in a way that gives greater value to the interdependence between social, environmental, technological and economic conditions in the production sphere. This is the process of Just Transition – achieving sustainability transitions in a way that is ‘just’ to the workers and communities involved, ensuring that no one is left behind. As the industry works towards a sustainable recovery post-COVID-19, there is also a need to collaborate and actively shape the role that the region will play in reducing emissions in the sector and production going forward to respond to the industry ‘Call to Action’ for a just and resilient garment industry.

Thus, throughout the Asia-Pacific Region, SMEs as well as large industries could take advantage of this new paradigm, with co-benefits that also meet country commitments for sustainable development. With the confluence of various technological advances and the United Nations Secretary General’s call to countries to declare a state of climate emergency until carbon neutrality is reached, now is the time to bring key stakeholders together to substantively reduce CO2 for more cost-effective business. Grappling with the challenges outlined above calls for unparalleled regional cooperation and convening power to gather governments (in this project – national, provincial and municipal government), academics, the private sector and civil society organisations. It is a call that the United Nations is well positioned to respond to, as no single government or agency has the necessary resources to address these challenges on its own.

The International Labour Organization (ILO)’ project on ‘Decent Work in the Garment Sector Supply Chains in Asia’, implemented with financial support from the Swedish Development Agency (Sida), is enhancing the environmental sustainability of the garment sector supply-chains through gender-responsive guidance on regulatory and enforcement capacities, analysis of critical enablers and barriers to eco-innovation, and identification of markets for eco-innovation services and products.8 4 COVID-19: Action in the Global Garment Industry aims to catalyse action from across the global garment industry to support manufacturers to survive the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect garment workers’ income, health and employment. This global action also calls for work on sustainable systems of social protection for a more just and resilient garment industry.

Participation The Roundtable will see the participation of national, and local governments from targeted countries, chambers of commerce, industry associations, sustainability leaders in the apparel & fashion industry as well as the cement industry, embassies and their funding mechanisms, international organisations, nongovernment organisations and other key stakeholders.

About the project

The Decent Work in Garment Supply Chains Asia project aims to bring together knowledge and insight from across the garment sector in Asia, and enhance regional action and industry coordination to drive decent work and sustainability goals. This project is implemented by the ILO with the financial support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).