Coffee Industry Supporting 120M Poor People Will Soon Be Gone Because Of Climate Change

Climate change deniers will be biting their tongue when they no longer have coffee.

Credit: We Adapt

Credit: We Adapt

Climate change is mostly caused by the richest countries, yet it’s the poorest citizens of the world who are truly experiencing the adverse effects of it.

A new report by the Climate Institute found that the coffee industry is in deep trouble as climate change impacts coffee crops around the world. In Tanzania, where 2.4 million people rely on the industry for work and sustenance, production has fallen by 137kg per hectare for every 1C rise in the minimum temperature on farms. Since the 1960s, there has been a 50% decrease in production.

It’s not just the rising temperature that is killing crops, but everything that comes with rising temperatures as well. The unusual high-altitude rain, brought on by climate change, has strongly increased the number of pests and diseases that are plaguing the farms.

In 2012, coffee leaf rust affected half of the coffee across Central America, and an alarming 85 percent of Guatemala’s crops were demolished. This damage amounted to a loss of $500 million and left 350,00 people, who were already poor, without jobs.

As time goes on and the Earth’s environment worsens, so will coffee production. Each region that produces the crop will experience climate change differently, but researchers estimate that wild coffee will be completely extinct by 2080.

Credit: Anthony John Coletti

Credit: Anthony John Coletti

Big players in the coffee industry, including Starbucks and Lavazza, have been warning consumers that climate change is not only affecting their industry and, by default, their customers, but that it’s also impacting the world and needs to be addressed. In 2015, Mario Cerutti from Lavazza said in a conference:

“We have a cloud hovering over our head. It’s dramatically serious. Climate change can have a significant adverse effect in the short term. It’s no longer about the future; it’s the present.”

In 2011, Jim Hanna, director of environmental affairs at Starbucks, told the Guardian,

“If we sit by and wait until the impacts of climate change are so severe that [it] is impacting our supply chain then that puts us at a greater risk.”

The ability for coffee growers to adapt to climate change is limited at best, as poverty prevents them from easily moving to new areas because it would take years for that coffee to even be produced.

As consumers, we can help aid the workers by buying brands that “provide a fair return to farmers and their communities while helping to build their capacity to adapt to climate change,” said John Connor, the chief executive of the Climate Institute. The company that commissioned the report, Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, said that their Fairtrade Climate Neutral Coffee does just that.

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