Co-op launches new climate change commitments for Fairtrade producers

Fairtrade Co-op

British convenience retailer, the Co-operative Group (Co-op) has announced its continued commitment to spend more than 0.7 per cent of its pre-tax profit on international aid.

The Co-op is also joining forces with Fairtrade Africa and the Fairtrade Foundation to support producers in combating the effects of climate change.

This announcement comes alongside the release of its latest report, Climate Justice for People and Planet, which calls for increased business accountability. In doing so, the Co-op aims to protect and invest into the resilience and transitioning of global supply chains during the climate crisis.

“As we have seen throughout the pandemic, we are reliant on the global food system for the food we enjoy here in the United Kingdom. However, the reality is that for many of our suppliers the climate crisis is as immediate and pressing as the impact of COVID-19,” says Jo Whitfield, CEO of Co-op Food.

“It’s crucial that we ensure producers in low-income countries receive adequate support to cover the cost of adapting to climate change and transitioning to low carbon production.”

This partnership with Fairtrade Africa will ensure the region’s producers are supported with its total suitable land growing area estimated to be halved by 2050.

“Co-op is standing side by side with Fairtrade producers, ensuring a farmer-centric approach to adapting and mitigating the very worst effects of climate change and channelling crucial funding to the areas of greatest need in a flexible and responsive manner,” says Chris Oluoch, Programmes Director of Fairtrade Africa.

This follows the decision by the Government to not return to its commitment of investing 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income into international aid and development. Currently, the government has reduced this aid to 0.5 per cent, equating to nearly AU $7 billion in funding.

The Co-op has lobbied 650 members of parliament against the government’s motion, using its new report to show the impacts that this reduced funding will have on impacted international communities.

In 2009, during the UN’s climate talks in Copenhagen, the world’s richest countries agreed to spend US $100 billion a year on climate change finance by 2020. While progress has been made and it still remains a key goal of the Paris Agreement, the target has not been achieved.

According to the Co-op report, it is vital for collective progress to be made during the 2021 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP-26) when discussing the US$100 billion commitment to invest in climate resilience and adaption.

The Co-op’s new investment into Fairtrade Africa will help support Fairtrade’s climate strategy and generate further action on the ground, benefitting producers at the front line of the climate crisis.

This new approach will also pool the Co-op’s current investment from individual projects into an overarching strategic program directed by the producers themselves.

This commitment is part of the Co-op’s 10-point climate change action plan which was announced in May 2021. This plan sets out a roadmap for how the Co-op will achieve zero carbon emissions by 2040.

“Globally, 2020 was the joint hottest year on record, and 2011 to 2020 was the hottest decade recorded. As a consequence of climate change, it is expected that the total area of land suitable for coffee growing will have halved by 2050, which will be devastating for communities that rely on coffee for their livelihoods,” says Whitfield.

“Our partnership with Fairtrade Africa will see long term investment to support producers to adapt and mitigate climate change and ensure their livelihoods for the future, all of which is made possible thanks to Co-op members and customers.”

To read the report, click here.

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