The climate emergency was placed at the heart of the 2021 Fairtrade Fortnight campaign. Find out more about Fair Trade and Climate Change and get involved.
Key workers at the start of many supply chains are struggling.
Farmers of crops such as tea, coffee and cocoa are still being paid poorly for their produce and work. On top of that, they face low pay, volatile market prices and rising production costs.
Workers who make our products and clothes also face low wages and dangerous conditions. They have little power in the multimillion-pound supply chains they supply to.
Over the past year, Covid has exacerbated these inequalities by slowing business activity and pushing families already struggling to make ends meet further into poverty.
But more worryingly, alongside the coronavirus crisis and market challenges, the climate crisis is wreaking havoc on their livelihoods.
Farmers tell us that they are feeling the effects of climate change now with freak weather, extreme rainfall, prolonged dry seasons and increasing prevalence of plant diseases all affecting their crops and therefore their income. A farmer from a Fair Trade cooperative in Malawi told us:
‘Climate change means there are now seasons when the harvest fails. If this happens the immediate impact is hunger for the already vulnerable families.’
Fairtrade coffee farmer, Bayardo Betanco of the Prodecoop co-operative in Nicaragua, said:
‘There is a chain on earth that starts where the producers are. They are the ones who suffer the consequences of climate change, the ones who get the least help, and carry all of the burden. It’s not fair.’
To rub salt into the wound, we know that countries such as Malawi and Nicaragua have contributed very little to global greenhouse gas emissions and climate change compared to more industrialised nations such as the UK.
Here in Scotland, as a nation of people which has come to love tea, coffee, bananas and cocoa – and as part of a nation which sources many other foods from overseas- these crises will affect us too. If we don’t take action now, availability of products such as coffee could decline to the extent that they become luxury items or completely unavailable to us.
- As much as 50% of global land currently used for coffee farming may no longer be suitable
- Adverse climate conditions will trigger a drastic decline in bananas yields in 10 countries
- Many regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, who produce over half the world’s cocoa, will become too hot to grow the crop.
- As much as 50% of global land currently used for coffee farming
Now more than ever, we need to ensure that farmers receive fair pay, prices, and have power to make their own choices, meet their everyday needs and deal with the challenges posed by climate change.
Now more than ever, we need Fair Trade.
In Scotland, we can do more. We can ensure that more money and reaches farmers and workers through Fairtrade. We can also ensure that the burden of responsibility and regulation is not placed on already vulnerable communities.
We, in richer, industrialised nations and as contributors to climate change, must also take and urge urgent action to drive down emissions. That is why we supported the Fairtrade Foundation’s call to the UK government to stop dumping our emissions on poorer countries and ensure the government’s trade policy helps, not hinders, the path to net zero.
Whilst the idea of radically and urgently changing the way we do business and trade to respond to the climate emergency and build back better may seem like an overwhelming challenge, we know it must be done. The Fair Trade model provides a framework on which to build for that new way of working. It is an example of how we can trade can do business with the interest of people and our planet at its heart.
What can you do?
- Get involved with Fair Trade
- Get involved in COP26 this year in Glasgow and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland
- Share our Wake Up and Smell the Coffee animation about Fair Trade and Climate Change