Leather UK Calls on COP26 to Reduce Reliance on Fossil-Fuels, Prioritise Natural Materials

LONDON, 28 October, 2021 – Leather UK, the trade body that represents, promotes and protects the interests of the UK leather industry, along with 30 other international leather industry organisations, is calling on the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to prioritise natural materials as a means of directly mitigating climate impact.

The “Leather Manifesto,” written by the organisations, challenges the COP26 to recognise the cyclical, climate-efficient characteristics of natural fibres and their potential to reduce the climate impacts of consumer products.

“Natural fibres are part of the biogenic carbon cycle and as such are comprised of carbon that has been in the atmosphere for a millennia,” the Leather Manifesto states. “These readily available raw materials, when ethically and properly produced, are an important replacement for fossil fuels, reducing the need for its extraction and retaining more carbon in the earth. Furthermore, at the end of life, properly produced natural materials will biodegrade, limiting their impact and mitigating harmful emissions, such as microplastic pollution, often associated with synthetic materials.”

The Manifesto further notes that natural materials, such as leather, are often dismissed through a lack of understanding of the manufacturing process and its supply chain, or through the application of questionable science generally in the form of incomplete and incomparable or outdated Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs). Alternative materials, often fossil fuel-based synthetic alternatives, use this confusion to make unsubstantiated claims about their sustainability.

Dr Kerry Senior, Director of Leather UK comments: “We believe that this is an important statement on the positive impact that leather and other natural fibres can have in meeting the challenges of climate change. Leather upcycles a renewable waste from the food industry into a long-lasting, repairable material, ideal for the buy less and keep longer model that we all need to adopt”.