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Environment is fashion's hot topic

our leaders won't lead, so perhaps it's time we took action to save the planet, says Curtis Jacoby

"Faced with this emergency, now is not the time for half measures. It is the time for a revolution in the true sense of the term. We are, in truth, on the doorstep of the irreversible." So said French president Jacques Chirac in response to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

It appears almost undeniable that human activity since the dawn of the industrial age will have a catastrophic effect on the planet unless we act collectively to slash our CO2 emissions.

As responsible corporate and personal citizens, we should not wait for our governments to overcome their inertia (and their fear of future elections), but think about the small changes we can make in our lives to use energy more sparingly, whether through greater efficiency or simply wearing more layers of clothing. All those PRs advising businesses about their ethical stance will have to shift their focus to their employer's carbon footprint.

The sophisticated Western consumer is used to cheap products emanating from developing nations and has consistently turned a blind eye to ethical considerations when it comes to price. However, corporate environmental impact will only increase our feelings ofguilt. Concepts that are simple to understand, such as local production rather than trans-global shipping, will inevitably affect the clothing industry. At the risk of repeating comments Imade in an earlier column, it is time tolook nearer to home for production, not only to protect our socio-political system, but for the health of the planet.

In a world that is getting warmer, it's ironic that a simple and time-honoured solution to decrease our energy use is to put on a warm sweater, a gilet or perhaps something as outmoded as a winter coat (hands up everyone who discounted their coats too fast and too early and didn't wait for the cold snap in February?), while at the same time turning down the thermostat a degree or two, or even waiting at a bus stop, tube station, tram or railway station instead of taking the car.

Department stores take note: your coat and knitwear departments need to be reassessed in time for next winter, because there's going to be a rush for warm clothing. And we should all forget about trans-seasonal, transitional and concerns about trans-fatty acids. You'll need some meat on your ribs to keep warm. Suet dumplings and dripping on toast will be the order of the day. Send a note to catering.

It was interesting to see that UK and Irish buyers were also thinking deeply about their carbon footprint as they stayed away in droves from Pret a Porter in Paris and CPD in Dusseldorf earlier this month. It's a shame that the planes still flew (half empty), although in fairness the IPCC's report estimated that the vapour trails left by planes have a rather insignificant impact.

Nevertheless, perhaps aeroplanes should be like a funfair ride - they only fly when they've sold all the seats. Which reminds me of those customers who pay their bills only when they've sold all the stock... don't get me started on that one.

In the roasting summer months ahead, think jugs of iced lemonade, lace and parasols. If these were good enough for Scarlett O'Hara, you can certainly turn the air conditioning down a notch.

- Curtis Jacoby runs womenswear agency the Jacoby Partnership in central London.

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