We could loose coffee to climate change
Climate change has already began to impact coffee production. Increasing temperatures and extreme weather events are expected to cut the area suitable for coffee production by up to 50% which would increase its prices for consumers and risk the livelihoods of 125 million people reliant on coffee.
The incidence of disease and pests has already increased, affecting yields and quality. Also, in already hot countries more warming is increasing the burden on the physical and mental health of producers, laborers and communities, which represent 80-90% of the world's 25 million coffee farmers.
These smallholders generally live in the "bean belt" which comprises countries like, Guatemala Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
In Central America, impacts have already began. During the 2012-2013 coffee leaf rust outbreak there was a drop in production of 2.7 million bags, crop damage equivalent to $500 million dollars and more than 350,000 jobs affected. In Brazil, droughts in 2014 destroyed one third of the crops and in Colombia, a predicted 2.5 degrees Celsius increase by 2050 will damage 60% of the agricultural land.
The Climate Institute released a report named "A Brewing Storm" which researched available information on the climate risks of coffee and motivate urgent climate action.
Their work shows that production will be moving away from the equator. The risk of deforestation as coffee migrates upslope can cause biodiversity losses and CO2 emissions to rise. Also, key coffee pests migrate too and can spread into new areas.
“Without strong climate action, the areas suitable for growing coffee could halve in a few decades, pushing production upslope, away from the equator and into conflict with other land uses, such as nature conservation and forestry. By 2080 wild coffee, an important genetic resource for farmers, could be extinct,” reads the Climate Institute press release.
On average 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day. “Companies such as Starbucks and Lavazza, as well as the International Coffee Organization, have already publicly acknowledged the severity of climate risks,” CEO of The Climate Institute John Connor said. “Consumers are likely to face supply shortages, impacts on flavor and aromas, and rising prices.”
Consumers can help by learning about the challenges faced by coffee producers and communities. They can support organizations willing to make the difference like Fairtrade International which aims to give farmers stability and protecting them from volatile price drops. They can also choose brands that are carbon neutral, guarantee a fair return to smallholder farmers and help them adapt to climate change.