Switching to organic cotton could reduce the global warming impact of cotton production by 46 per cent, compared to non-organic cotton, according to a report published in (Cool Cotton—Cotton and Climate Change) the Soil Association.
Consumption of scarce fresh water can also be reduced by over 90 per cent and energy use by over 60 per cent due to organic cotton. By contrast, if current practices remain unchecked, from cotton production could increase to 300 million tonnes of CO2e by 2020.
Due to its heavy use of insecticides and water, high GHG emissions, and land use, cotton has been termed as the world’s dirtiest crop. 26 million tonnes of cotton was produced globally in 2013-14, on about 33 million hectares of land in a hundred countries. This was done using 2.5 per cent of the world’s farmland. One hundred million households are dependant on cotton farming. These are mostly in some of the poorest countries of the world. Cotton is also responsible for 16 per cent of the global insecticide use—more than any other crop, apart from GHG emissions. Across the world, cotton production releases 220 million tonnes of CO2e, and one tonne of non-organic cotton produces 1.8 tonnes of CO2e.
Organic cotton is in great demand today. Global market for organic cotton grew by 67 per cent last year, and is now worth an estimated $15.7 billion. Sales of Soil Association certified textiles rose 3.4 per cent to £18.6 million last year in the UK and global production of organic cotton is estimated to increase by 15-20 per cent in 2014-15.