How would you fare without your morning cup of joe?

Earlier this month, a nonprofit organization in Australia named the Climate Institute published a report that details just how climate change could affect the world's coffee supply.

Reported yesterday by The New York Times:

The report emphasizes the threat warming temperatures pose to farmland, citing a study from the March 2015 issue of the journal Climatic Change that found climate change "will reduce the global area suitable for coffee by about 50 percent across emission scenarios."

In addition to the disappearing land on which to grow coffee, the report highlights the way warmer weather is exacerbating the threat of diseases like coffee rust and pests like the coffee berry borer, a type of beetle that a 2011 report said caused annual losses of hundreds of millions of dollars in coffee beans.

Some key points of the report include:

  • Without strong action to reduce emissions, climate change is projected to cut the global area suitable for coffee production by as much as 50 per cent by 2050.
  • Many countries where coffee exports form a main plank of the economy are also amongst the most vulnerable to climate risk. Honduras, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and Guatemala, for instance, rank in the top- 10 for climate-related damages since the 1990s.
  • Leading global coffee companies, such as Starbucks and Lavazza, publicly acknowledge the severe risks posed by climate change to the world's coffee supply. Consumers are likely to face supply shortages, impacts on flavour and aroma, and rising prices.

This may be news to many of us, but farmers and coffee farmers the world over have been struggling with the effects of climate change for years.

"I don't know any coffee farmers who don't believe that their weather, and with it their disease and productivity issues, have changed dramatically over the last decade," said Doug Welsh, who serves as a member of the board of World Coffee Research, an international group founded by a cooperative of coffee companies.

"There is no coffee company on the face of the earth that's big enough to tackle the challenge of climate change on its own."

Now what?

Not all hope is lost.

According to the report, coffee drinkers should begin by informing themselves about the challenges those in the coffee community are facing, and about the role Fairtrade (and others) are playing in attempts to make a difference.

The Climate Institute also recommends that consumers "choose brands that are carbon neutral, guarantee a fair return to smallholder farmers and their communities, and help them build their capacity to adapt to climate change."

Of course, in the end, none of this may be enough. So if you're like me, you might consider an additional course of action:

Time to start stocking up on coffee beans.

Published on: Sep 23, 2016
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