Climate change is threatening farmers in poorer countries and some of the UK’s favourite foods they produce, from coffee to chocolate, the Fairtrade Foundation warns.
The organisation is calling on the Government and businesses to do more to tackle the “hidden” emissions in supply chains and imported products, so the UK tackles its full carbon footprint as part of global action on climate change.
And there needs to be more support for farmers in poor countries to cope with the climate crisis and the weather extremes it brings, including paying them a fair price for their produce, it urged.
If current rates of global warming continue, by 2050 as much as 50% of the world’s land used for coffee farming may no longer be suitable for the crop, a report by the Fairtrade Foundation warns.
Adverse climate conditions could trigger drastic declines in banana yields in 10 countries, including India, Brazil and Colombia.
It would be bad news for chocolate lovers and producers too, as many regions in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, which produce more than half the world’s cocoa, would become too hot to grow the crop.
The UK has set legal targets to reduce its domestic greenhouse gas pollution to “net zero” by 2050, to play its part in curbing climate change.
But Britain is also responsible for emissions created overseas in producing goods that are imported for consumption here, which make up almost half of the total carbon footprint for the country, the report warns.
The Fairtrade Foundation is urging the Government and businesses to take faster, stronger action to drive down emissions in supply chains, support farmers and safeguard the future of staple foods loved by Britons.
A failure to do so would effectively be “dumping” the responsibility for the emissions on developing countries, who are least responsible for and most affected by climate change, it says.
The foundation’s chief executive Mike Gidney said: “Not only is the climate emergency threatening the livelihoods of farmers in low-income nations, it’s also jeopardising the future viability of their crops, meaning supermarket staples like chocolate and coffee could conceivably become luxury items by 2050 if global heating continues apace.
“We must stop outsourcing the burden of responsibility for tackling UK-driven emissions to other countries, including much poorer ones who have done the least to cause climate change.”
The Fairtrade Foundation is calling for the UK to include “offshore” emissions in its net-zero target, and include and tackle pollution from international aviation and shipping as part of its climate goals.
Producers in poor countries also need financial support to move to a low-carbon economy and cope with impacts of a warming world, including through UK businesses paying higher, fairer prices for imports, it says.
The report comes at the start of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight, with the latest figures revealing consumer demand for Fairtrade products increased during the pandemic.
Fairtrade purchases were up 15% in the last year, with the boost in ethical products ranging from a tripling of wine sales at Lidl to increased searches for Fairtrade sugar, bananas and coffee on Waitrose.com.
And almost 30% of consumers pledged to buy more Fairtrade goods in the future, according to Ethical Consumer’s Ethical Markets Report produced in collaboration with Co-operative Group.
The Fairtrade Foundation licenses the Fairtrade mark in the UK, which shows that producers in the developing world have been paid a fair price for their product and a premium for community or business projects, and that standards on workers’ rights and the environment have been met.