Otto Group signs United Nations Climate Charter

10.12.2018 | Hamburg

As Germany’s largest textile retailer, the Otto Group has signed the newly established Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, whose objective is to reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Under the umbrella of the United Nations, through the Climate Charter the international retail and services group advocates intensifying climate-protection measures in order to reach the targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

Driving international and sector-wide collaboration for a more sustainable industry has a long history at the Otto Group – and signing the Climate Charter is the latest in a series of sector alliances for the Group. “On its own, a single company can only play a limited part in tackling the challenges of our age. This is why it’s so important that we join forces and bundle all our resources”, emphasises Alexander Birken, CEO Otto Group. “By signing this UN initiative we also want to underscore how vital it is to work together internationally for effective climate protection – both on a political as well as an economic level. We are convinced that urgent challenges such as climate change can only be overcome through collaboration and cooperation right across the sector.”

The initiative was officially presented today, Monday 10 December, at the Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland and emphasises the urgency of limiting the rise in global temperature to clearly below 2° Celsius compared to the preindustrial level. The climate protection measures set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement require tremendous commitment and unflinching resolve from business. Current solutions and business models are not enough to ensure the set objectives are reached, according to the Charter’s signatories. Through the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, the textile sector now publicly assumes its responsibilities regarding climate change.

In line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement the Charter defines topics including the selection of more climate-friendly and more sustainable materials, low-carbon transport, improved communication with the consumer, improved collaboration with political decision-makers to drive scalable solutions, and research into circular business models. To ensure progress, specific solutions are being discussed and developed to maturity in different working groups. 

Amongst other goals the Charter’s signatories commit to the target of reducing their overall greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. To achieve this they have defined specific initiatives that include implementing energy-efficiency measures and increasing the use of renewable energies in the value chain, as well as actively promoting low-carbon transport logistics. All signatories are expected to provide corresponding progress reports.

Many years ago the Otto Group recognised its role in reducing climate-harming emissions caused by its business activity and undertook corresponding measures to counteract this. In 2006 the Group implemented its Climate Strategy with the explicit target of halving the CO₂ emissions at its own sites, in its supply and distribution transport as well as in employee mobility by 2020 compared to the 2006 benchmark. As at the end of 2017 these emissions had already been cut by 42 percent, meaning the Group is well on track to successful implementation of the ambitious Climate Strategy adopted by the Executive Board.

With a focus on its own value chain, in October 2018 together with four leading fashion brands and under the sponsorship of the WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature) the Otto Group mobilised around 30 textile-manufacture suppliers in Vietnam to take part in Climate Action Training. The workshop lasted several days and was the first of its kind to take place in this collaborative form. It concentrated on measures to counteract climate change, such as a greenhouse gas scorecard, energy efficiency, and renewable energy sources. The training was carried out by Systain Consulting, the Otto Group’s in-house company consultancy, and was financed by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) under the mandate of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Signing the Climate Charter is the latest in a long series of alliances for the Otto Group. The Group recently announced its partnership with the sustainability platform Fashion for Good. The common goal here is to bring about positive change in the fashion industry through sustainable innovations. The partnership focuses on implementing new procedures and technologies in the textile value chain that will have a positive socio-economic impact.

By signing the Climate Charter the Otto Group strengthens its commitment to climate protection and calls on other companies and organisations to join the initiative. The Otto Group is convinced that counteracting climate change can only succeed by tackling the issue together and joining forces.

Read the official UN Press Release on the Climate Charter here:


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About the Otto Group

Founded in Germany in 1949, today the Otto Group is a globally active retail and services group with around 51,800 employees. The Group comprises 123 major companies and does business in over 30 countries in Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Its business activities are grouped into three segments: Multichannel Retail, Financial Services, and Service. In the 2017/18 financial year (to 28 February) the Otto Group generated revenues of 13.7 billion euros. With online revenues of approximately 7.9 billion euros, the Otto Group is one of the world’s largest online retailers. E-commerce, catalogue sales and over-the-counter (OTC) retail form the three pillars of the Otto Group’s Multichannel Retail activities. Worldwide corporate activities, numerous strategic partnerships and joint ventures provide the Otto Group with excellent opportunities to transfer know-how and leverage areas of synergy potential. Group companies operate largely independently, guaranteeing flexibility, customer proximity and optimum target-group appeal in their respective national markets.