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A HOT mess

From the January 2016 issue.

In the January/February edition of GCR Magazine, international climate expert Jeffrey Sachs warns the coffee industry to brace itself for the looming challenges of climate change.

Roasters were likely on the edge of their seats during the climate change talks in Paris last December. And if they weren’t, they should have been.

After two decades of failed attempts, the world has finally come to an agreement that sets limits for greenhouse gas emissions to try control our impact on climate change.

The deal signed by nearly 200 countries will take effect in 2020, and aims to keep the global temperature “well below” a two degrees rise above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

While better than a civilisation-threatening climate change course many experts believed we were previously on, the current target could still potentially devastate the coffee industry.

Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, warns that even a two degrees temperature change could ravage up to 50 per cent of coffee growing lands.

“There isn’t any part of the world that is safe from climate change,” Sachs tells GCR Magazine. “You have to save our coffee and you have to save our planet.”

It’s an issue weighing especially heavy on the minds of coffee industry leaders, who are scrambling to find sustainability solutions in the face of growing demand.

A hot commodity

The world will need another Brazil, the top grower and exporter of coffee, in order to satisfy the growing global demand for coffee.

Emerging markets such as India and China are particularly developing a taste for the commodity quickly gaining ground in tea-drinking nations.

“Global production will need to rise by 40 to 50 million bags in the next decade,” says Andrea Illy, Chief Executive Officer of illycaffè at last year’s inaugural Global Coffee Forum. The family-run Italian roaster was among several industry players gathered to tackle potential solutions to sustainability challenges such as climate change.

For Robério Oliveira Silva, Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), simply calling the situation disconcerting would likely be a significant understatement.

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