Climate change is going to halve the area suitable for coffee production and impact the livelihoods of more than 120 million of the world’s poorest people who rely on the coffee economy, according to a new report by the Climate Institute, commissioned by Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand.
The report findings follow stark warnings by some of the world’s biggest coffee producers, including Starbucks and Lavazza, who have said climate change is posing a severe risk to the industry.
Climate change is already impacting coffee crops around the world, according to the report. In Tanzania, where 2.4 million people’s livelihoods rely on coffee, production has fallen by about 137 kilogramme per hectare for every 1C rise in the minimum temperature on farms. Overall there has been a 50 per cent decline there since the 1960s.
Extreme temperatures and unusual high-altitude rains have also sparked costly waves of pests and disease through coffee farms. In 2012, coffee leaf rust affected half of the coffee across Central America, while some producers in Guatemala lost up to 85 per cent of their crop.
In 2012 and 2013, the damage in Central America amounted to about $500 million and put 350,000 people out of work.
How climate change will impact coffee growers in coming decades will vary by region. Scientists think Nicaragua could lose the majority of its coffee-growing areas by 2050, and in Tanzania, coffee yields were projected to reach “critically low levels” by 2060.
By 2080, scientists think wild coffee, which is important for genetic diversity of farmed coffee, could be extinct.
For consumers of coffee, all of this will impact flavour, aroma and price, the report said.