Sleepwalking into trouble
April 1 - 2022
Coffee Geography Magazine
"Stop hitting snooze! The alarm clock is ringing!" – Climate change impacts coffee-growing regions more than expected. It requires immediate action. This is the clear message given by climate scientist Dr. Peter Baker and Stefan Ruge, Program Manager Climate at Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS). In an expert discussion organized by the initiative for coffee&climate (c&c), they showed how climate change threatens the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farmers and drew scenarios for the near future.
"There is no realistic chance of staying below 1.5°C anymore", was the sobering statement by Dr. Peter Baker. Whereas the overall global temperature rise is now 1.1 to 1.2 °C, the global land temperatures are already at 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The impacts of climate change lead coffee farmers to migrate or diversify out of the coffee business and also threaten their livelihoods through extreme weather events and socio-politic implications. Baker claims that by now, every country should ideally already have a comprehensive climate adaptation and disaster management team assembled, plans developed and under implementation. Only with immediate action, there is a chance to avoid catastrophic impacts on the sector as a whole. However, efforts of the coffee industry to support farmers so far are often piecemeal and of an inadequate scale. Especially smallholder coffee farmers will have to deal with the increasing impacts of climate change. "It is not about coffee alone, it is about the people and supporting them to become resilient to the changes", emphasizes Stefan Ruge. "The solution is the concerted action of the sector in a holistic approach. The industry needs to become an active partner here." This effort is made by c&c, a private sector initiative supported by companies such as Lavazza, Tim Hortons, or Tchibo as well as by Sida, our public partner.
c&c innovates, disseminates, and implements climate-smart tools and practices in coffee production, provides them to coffee farmers and supports these in diversifying their production and in increasing their food security. In doing so, it supports farming families in six regions worldwide to effectively respond to climate change and safeguard their livelihoods. c&c's strategy furthermore includes building up whole climate-smart tropical regions and establishing carbon-neutral and zero-deforestation coffee supply chains. HRNS is the implementing partner of c&c. "As an action-oriented organization we have a lot to do", argues Ruge. Since its founding in 2010, c&c has developed and implemented suitable responses to climate change in seven regions worldwide. With more than 92,000 coffee farming households supported to date, c&c is currently in its third phase of implementation and will reach an additional 80,000 families by 2024.