Climate Change Impacts: Coffee and Chocolate to Go!
The sustainability director for Starbucks
said its coffee farmers were already seeing the effects of a changing climate,
with severe hurricanes and more resistant bugs reducing crop yields.The company
is now preparing for the possibility of a serious threat to global supplies. Meanwhile,
the world’s cocoa supply could be in danger from climate change, according to a
new study from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which
says that prices are likely to skyrocket if preventative measures aren’t taken.
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment
correspondent for guardian.co.uk (13 October
Forget about super-sizing into the Trenta a
few years from now: Starbucks is warning of a threat to world coffee supply
because of climate change.
(Note: The Trenta, available only for iced
drinks, will be in every U.S. Starbucks by May 3. The 31oz addition to the
Starbucks lineup is 325mL larger than Starbucks’ previous largest size, the
Venti. At 916 mL, the Trenta is actually larger than the average capacity of
the adult human stomach (900mL).)
In a telephone interview with the Guardian,
Jim Hanna, the company’s sustainability director, said its farmers were already
seeing the effects of a changing climate, with severe hurricanes and more
resistant bugs reducing crop yields.
The company is now preparing for the
possibility of a serious threat to global supplies. “What we are really
seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions
continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain,
which is the Arabica coffee bean,” Hanna said.
It was the second warning in less than a
month of a threat to a food item many people can’t live without.
New research from the International Centre
for Tropical Agriculture warned it would be too hot to grow chocolate in much
of the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s main producers, by 2050.
Hanna is to travel to Washington on Friday to
brief members of Congress on climate change and coffee at an event sponsored by
the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The coffee giant is part of a business
coalition that has been trying to push Congress and the Obama administration to
act on climate change – without success, as Hanna acknowledged.
The coalition, including companies like Gap,
are next month launching a new campaign – showcasing their own action against
climate change – ahead of the release of a landmark science report from the
Hanna told the Guardian the company’s
suppliers, who are mainly in Central America, were already experiencing
changing rainfall patterns and more severe pest infestations.
Even well-established farms were seeing a
drop in crop yield, and that could well discourage growers from cultivating
coffee in the future, further constricting supply, he said. “Even in very
well established coffee plantations and farms, we are hearing more and more
stories of impacts.”
These include: more severe hurricanes,
mudslides and erosion, variation in dry and rainy seasons.
Hanna said the company was working with local
producers to try to cushion them from future changes.
“If we sit by and wait until the impacts
of climate change are so severe that is impacting our supply chain then that
puts us at a greater risk,” he said. “From a business perspective we
really need to address this now, and to look five, 10, and 20 years down the
Planet Getting Too Hot for Chocolate? Study
Finds Climate Change Could Threaten Cocoa Farmers
by Rachel Cernansky, Boulder, Colorado on
The world’s cocoa supply could be in danger
from climate change, according to a new study from the International Center for
Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which says that prices are likely to skyrocket if
preventative measures aren’t taken. The report predicts that the expected
annual temperature increase of more than two degrees Celsius by 2050 will leave
many cocoa-producing areas in West Africa—the source of more than half the
world’s chocolate—too hot to continue growing the crop. And the report says the
decline could begin as soon as 2030.
In the report, Predicting the Impact of
Climate Change on the Cocoa-Growing Regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire [PDF],
CIAT predicts that in warmer conditions, heat-sensitive cocoa trees will
struggle to get enough water during the growing season. Drier-than-ever dry
seasons won’t help the trees, either.
More from CIAT:
By 2050, a rise of 2.3 degrees Celsius will
drastically affect production in lowland regions, including the major
cocoa-producing areas of Moyen-Comoe, Sud-Comoe and Agneby in Cote d’Ivoire,
and Western and Brong Ahafo in Ghana. Farmers in these areas are particularly
vulnerable since cocoa production is often their primary source of income.
“Many of these farmers use their cocoa
trees like ATM machines,” said CIAT’s Dr. Peter Laderach, the report’s
lead author. “They pick some pods and sell them to quickly raise cash for
school fees or medical expenses. The trees play an absolutely critical role in
Why Not Just Plant New Cocoa Trees Elsewhere?
report’s findings show that the ideal conditions for cocoa-growing will shift
to higher altitudes—but most of West Africa is relatively flat, so there is not
a lot of land at higher elevation to move to.
But even where there is higher land,
establishing new cocoa-producing areas could trigger the clearing of forests
and important habitats for flora and fauna. Which means, yes, exacerbating
climate change even further.
is pushing for a focus on improving the resilience of existing production
systems. It makes such recommendations as using larger shade trees to keep
cocoa trees cool (which many smallholder farmers already do); diversifying
crops grown for both export and food crops to spread the risk of one crop
failing; developing hardier cocoa crops capable of tolerating warmer, drier
conditions; and stepping up research into suitable irrigation systems.
Government-level policies will also be crucial to help cocoa farmers and the
Laderach said, “The good news is that
the report quantifies the risks, and pinpoints particularly vulnerable areas in
good time for effective action to be taken.”
The study is the first in a series that in
the coming months will also look at the impact of climate change on cashews and