Well, this should energize Americans! Fairtrade, a charity which attempts to offer an alternative to third world coffee buying cartels, to ensure vulnerable farmers receive a decent price for their crop, has produced a report which demands urgent climate action.
A Brewing Storm: The climate change risks to coffee
Coffee is a key global crop and the second most valuable commodity exported by developing countries, worth around US$19 billion in 2015. Worldwide, around 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day. Nearly half of all Australians drink coffee regularly. The coffee market is growing, but faces big challenges coming up fast:
There is strong evidence that rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns are already affecting coffee yields, quality, pests, and diseases—badly affecting economic security in some coffee regions.
Without strong action to reduce emissions, climate change is projected to cut the global area suitable for coffee production by as much as 50 per cent by 2050. By 2080, wild coffee, an important genetic resource for farmers, could become extinct.
Leading global coffee companies, such as Starbucks and Lavazza, publicly acknowledge the severe risks posed by climate change to the world’s coffee supply. Consumers are likely to face supply shortages, impacts on avour and aroma, and rising prices.
In the next few decades, coffee production will undergo dramatic shifts—broadly, away from the equator and further up mountains. Production will probably come into con ict with other land uses, including forests.
Rising CO2 levels may boost the growth and vigour of the coffee plant, but there is no guarantee this ‘fertilisation effect’ will offset the risks imposed by a more hostile climate.
Most of the world’s 25 million coffee farmers are smallholders. Alone, they have little capacity to adapt to a hotter world in which climate and market volatility conspire against them.
Over 120 million people in more than 70 countries rely on the coffee value chain for their livelihoods.
Many countries where coffee exports form a main plank of the economy are also amongst the most vulnerable to climate risk. Honduras, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and Guatemala, for instance, rank in the top- 10 for climate-related damages since the 1990s.
Climate change is likely to significantly increase the burden on the health and well being—physical and mental—of coffee producers, labourers, and communities, with consequences for productivity.
Crop adaptation strategies include developing more resilient production systems, diversifying crops, and shifting plantations upslope. The global trend, however, is towards intensification as producers seek to lift yields at the expense of more complex and carbon-rich landscapes. Ultimately, climate change is likely to push many producers out of coffee altogether.
However, the future for coffee and the world is not yet set. Several coffee companies have responded to customer demands for climate action, and many nations are making substantial efforts. Fairtrade, for example, has moved to ensure the production and supply chains for its Fairtrade Climate Neutral Coffee don’t add more heat- trapping greenhouse gases and that steps are taken to build safer, more resilient, more sustainable workplaces. Positive changes are brewing from above and below.