Coffee and Climate Change – a new Guide from ITC

21 October 2012
ITC News

Climate change is challenging what people take for granted in terms of livelihoods and lifestyles. With projected 3°C to 5°C average rises in temperature this century, the resulting drop in productivity (to zero in places), will mean millions of smallholders having to find alternative livelihoods.

Under threat from rising temperatures
Source: Sean Dreilinger, Flickr 

This may sound alarmist, but it is not an altogether unrealistic prospect according to Starbucks scientists. The 1°C rise in temperature in the last 20 years has already reduced productivity of coffee production and reduced potential growing areas for higher altitude loving Arabica coffee. Rising temperatures pose a "significant risk" to Starbuck's supply chain and by 2050 there may be no more coffee grown in West Africa. ITC has just published a new technical paper on Climate Change and the Coffee Industry.

The paper prepared together by ITC's respective Coffee and Trade & Environment teams focuses on the contribution of the coffee value chain to climate change and the impacts of climate change on global coffee production. It provides guidance on the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change and links to resources in this field. The paper will form a chapter in ITC's Coffee Exporter's Guide, a reference guide for the industry.

The paper has been presented at recent ICO and African Fine Coffees Association meetings and we hope will provide a useful resource for all stakeholders in the industry.

Some facts from the paper:

On mitigation:

  • Capsule coffees have a very high carbon footprint due to the emissions involved in the production of the metal capsules
  • Adding a dash of milk to the coffee or serving it in a paper cup can easily doube or triple the carbon footprint of the serving.


  • A 3°C rise in temperature would mean that the lower altitude limit for growing good quality Arabica will rise by 5m per annum.

The team preparing the paper included Hein Jan van Hilten (main author), Alex Kasterine, Morten Scholer and Dominic Stanculescu. Morten has edited the Coffee Exporter's Guide at ITC since 1992.

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