Marks & Spencer (M&S) is partnering with Fairtrade in a new initiative to support coffee farmers and vulnerable rural communities in their fight against climate change. Marks joins two leading coffee roasters in adopting Fairtrade’s Carbon Credits program after its launch during the climate change talks last week. Fairtrade Carbon Credits have been developed in partnership with the Gold Standard, an organisation specialising in climate security and sustainable development. The initiative aims to help vulnerable communities to reduce emissions while also strengthening themselves against the effects of climate change. Marks & Spencer is committing to purchase Fairtrade Carbon Credits that will fund new clean, efficient cook stoves for M&S coffee producers in Ethiopia. “This is a scheme that will deliver real benefits to businesses and communities,” said Carmel McQuaid, Head of Sustainable Business at Marks & Spencer. “It will make a difference to M&S, helping us maintain our carbon neutral commitment, a difference to our suppliers as all the credits will be spent with M&S suppliers in Ethiopia and it will make a difference in communities by providing a safer, cleaner and healthier way to cook.” Among other early adopters of the Fairtrade Carbon Credits are Belgian coffee roasters Beyers, who plan to make its Fairtrade certified coffee climate neutral, and the Java Coffee Company who have committed to Fairtrade climate neutral coffee for the European institutions in 2016. Fairtrade said its Carbon Credits program could help them take responsibility for any unavoidable emissions and minimise their carbon footprint.
“Increasingly, consumers and shareholders are demanding that businesses reduce their carbon footprint and compensate for unavoidable emissions,” said Fairtrade International CEO Martin Hill. “At the same time, small-scale farmers and workers are among the most affected by climate change even though they have contributed the least to causing it. Extreme weather conditions, increasing plant diseases such as coffee rust, and lower yields are just some of the problems they face.”
Oromia Coffee Farmers’ Union is one of the first cooperatives to pilot the Fairtrade Climate Standard, with the support of FairClimateFund. “The Fairtrade Climate Standard enables cooperatives like ours to combat the effects of climate change,” said Dessalegn Jena, General Manager of Oromia. “If climate change continues at the rate it is currently going, we will struggle to grow coffee in Ethiopia. By selling Fairtrade Carbon Credits, farmers will be able to build their resilience.”