After research revealed that most UK shoppers aren’t aware that the climate crisis will impact yields of commonly imported food, the Fairtrade Foundation is using its annual campaign this year to emphasise the importance of building climate resilience.
Fairtrade Fortnight has been running since 1997 and aims to help consumers learn more about the need to support workers across agricultural supply chains in dealing with environmental and social challenges. The 2022 iteration of the campaign launched on Saturday (18 February) and is placing a specific focus on the climate crisis.
Ahead of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight, the Fairtrade Foundation commissioned a survey of 2,000 adults across the UK, with questions relating to environmental, social and ethical issues.
On the environmental side of things, most people (78%) said it is important that businesses in the UK support those producing their staple products abroad to adapt to climate change. Yet 60% were not aware that the physical impacts of the climate crisis are already threatening yields of crops commonly imported to the UK, including cocoa, coffee and bananas.
By 2050, it is estimated, around half of the land currently used to produce coffee will be rendered unproductive by the global temperature increase. Forecasts for cocoa and banana production are similar. When consumers were made aware of this, 70% said they would be more likely to consider choosing Fairtrade products, to help ensure the future availability of staples.
The Fairtrade Foundation is not only urging consumers to select Fairtrade products, as the campaign usually does; it is also calling on the UK Government to ensure that the promises made at COP26 regarding climate resilience are met. Its research found that two-thirds of people believe the responsibility for tackling climate challenges ultimately lies with national governments.
Wealthy nations committed, at the summit in Glasgow, to ensure that the long-standing vision of delivering $100bn of climate finance to developing nations annually is met in 2023. There was also $232m of new funding confirmed for the Adaptation Fund, with the UK paying in alongside the USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Italy, Qatar, Spain, Switzerland, Quebec and Flanders.
Developing nations had been hoping for more clarity and funding on both of these issues. There was also a general feeling of disappointment over failures to reach a strong agreement on Loss and Damage in the final Glasgow Climate Pact. The UK Government will hold the COP presidency until COP27 begins in Egypt this November.
“Farmers in low-income countries are already using their expertise to tackle climate change, but they urgently need more resources and decent incomes to do so,” said Fairtrade Foundation chief executive Michael Gidney.
The director of the University of Reading’s Institute for International Development, Agriculture and Economics (GIIDAE), Dr Sarah Cardey, added: “Smallholder farmers in low-income countries are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, with droughts, floods and storms severely threatening livelihoods of producers across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. For these farmers and workers, a decent income is absolutely essential for building resilience to climate shocks, and ensuring they can adapt to a continually evolving climate.”
To mark Fairtrade Fortnight 2022, several of the UK’s largest retailers are increasing their related targets and launching new Fairtrade certified lines.
The Co-op, which has supported the Fairtrade Foundation for more than two decades, this week announced that all of its South African wines are now certified. It stocks 45 wines in this category. Additionally, the Co-op confirmed an £800,000 investment into a start-up winery called Fairroots, which will enable it to develop an education centre and support continued sustainable practices on the vineyards.
The move came after the Co-op launched new Fairtrade certified grapes, tomatoes, oranges last year.
Other retailers to have enhanced Fairtrade efforts in recent months include Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer (M&S) and Greggs.