Climate change will reduce the land available for coffee by 54% by 2100 even if global temperatures are contained to internationally agreed targets, according to a new report.
Coffee growers from Honduras to Ethiopia said they are already suffering from climate destabilisation and the charity Christian Aid has called on governments to help by cancelling historic debts and raising money to pay for climate loss and damage.
The charity has calculated that rising temperatures and unpredictable conditions will shrink the world’s land suitable for growing coffee by 54.4%, even if global temperatures are limited to 1.5-2C above pre-industrial levels.
Vietnam clocked its highest-ever temperature on record last week at 44.1C, while neighbouring countries also experienced new extremes. Rising temperatures, as well as erratic rainfall, disease, droughts and landslides brought on by human-induced climate change, threaten to shrink the coffee industry and impoverish its producers.
Yadira Lemus, a Honduran coffee farmer, said: “As a coffee producer, it is more and more difficult to produce. And yes, that is obviously related to climate change because before we would plant coffee and it produced almost by itself.
“We cannot say that because it changes from one year to the other and it is not easy to predict.”
Christian Aid issued its dire warning in a new report which calls for a cancellation of “unjust” debts and financial support to help farmers diversify their livelihoods.
Yitna Tekaligne, the charity’s Ethiopia country manager, said: “Africans make up 17% of the world’s population but we generate just 4% of the greenhouse gas emissions that have caused the climate crisis. And yet it is we who are suffering the brunt of the impacts of climate change.
“Our coffee industry is Ethiopia’s most important export and generates significant employment. But now it is under threat from climate change. The impact of climate change on coffee production is in plain sight, including through high levels of coffee leaf rust.”
David Taylor, Fairtrade Foundation’s senior policy manager, said: “This timely report from Christian Aid highlights what Fairtrade coffee farmers have been telling us for some time: the catastrophic consequences of climate breakdown is endangering not only their livelihoods, but also the future of their popular crop.
“Farming communities have a critical role in addressing the climate crisis and have the expertise to tackle it. However, too many smallholder coffee farmers – particularly those without the financial protections Fairtrade offers – simply cannot afford to do so, because the price they receive for their produce is far too low. This is unjust.”