COP26: Reflections from Glasgow
Ewan Reid, Managing Director
So, what does COP26 mean for coffee farmers? Bluntly, a move beyond a 1.5 Celsius increase will mean less coffee being grown during our lifetimes and in the short to medium term more uncertainty on supply – many would argue that we already seeing this.
Of course, that is the macro picture; every cup of coffee has a human story, the small-holder families, pickers and those in origin supply chains are arguably most exposed and least able to adapt to the climate crisis.
COP26 made some movement on climate adaptation funding for the Global South to catch up on the previous $100B annual commitment. However, it may take until COP27 before we see real delivery and importantly clarity on whether monies will be in the form of aid or as long-term loans potentially compounding debt positions further.
There was some criticism on inclusion however we were pleased to meet and inform discussions with Fairtrade producers and other stakeholders at COP. We had the opportunity to host at our roastery Sofia Nuñez Raudales from Solidaridad a leading development NGO working in Latin America. Sofia shared some of the positive work on payment for environmental services Solidaridad are developing that will be an important tool in climate justice going forward.
The Circular Economy It is difficult not to conclude that we missed an opportunity to close a circle on the banks of the Clyde at COP26. From the industrial revolution onwards, Glasgow was at the forefront of our arc of exploitation of carbon and other resources that continues to this day.
The hope was that this COP would deliver a true and just circular global economy that limited temperature change to 1.5 Celsius. This historic arc is at the crux of climate crisis inequality with 80% of global CO2 emissions coming from just 20 countries and a carbon debt legacy running back to the industrial revolution.
This inequality was highlighted starkly when Simon Kofe, Tuvalu Foreign Minister stood in the Pacific and implored to COP "We cannot wait for speeches when the sea is rising around us all the time".
The frustration was palpable as for decades now we have understood our environmental impact; it is nearly 30-years since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit brought this to the fore and only now are we moving to partial commitments on fossil fuels. Indeed, following COP26 just 65% of global GDP economic activity is signed up to the 1.5 Celsius limit. However, there is positive news, methane is even more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide so a global agreement to tackle this was a much-welcomed outcome.
Tentative positive steps were made on reparations for adaptation and mitigation obligations from the Global North and key carbon emitting nations have committed to bringing more concrete plans to COP27 in Egypt next year.
And for coffee consumption and the hospitality sector? Raising awareness - on the back of COP26 the November Ipsos Mori Index Issues UK poll placed climate at the top of concerns for consumers for the first time ever since its inclusion in 1988. It stands to reason that we expect climate to remain high on the agenda and for businesses in every sector to be judged on their climate actions going forward.
Packaging reduction, waste management, leveraging renewables and responsible sourcing are key levers for any hospitality business wanting to make a difference. We should be proud of what our sector has achieved though and engage with our customers and teams alike. Information to help with your action plan is readily available, a great starting point is the 5th Wave podcast series on action on the climate crisis in the roasting and hospitality sector.
Loyalty The voice of youth has grown louder in recent years, angry at the legacy future generations will inherit and lack of action. Vanessa Nakate, the 25-year-old Ugandan climate activist articulates this clearly for us all “Your actions matter. No action or voice is too small to make a difference.”, the 25-year-old Ugandan climate activist articulates this clearly for us all “Your actions matter. No action or voice is too small to make a difference.”
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Managing Director at Matthew Algie
Ewan joined Matthew Algie in 1993, having qualified as a food scientist. In the early days he helped lay the foundations of our sourcing and our approach to quality coffee. In 2002 Ewan joined the Board as Technical Director, overseeing quality assurance, green coffee supply chain, blend development and R&D. In 2018 he became Managing Director. During his career, in addition to working with many of our customers, Ewan has travelled extensively, sourcing coffee as a qualified Q-grader and working with producers in developing our joint partnerships. Over the years he has met hundreds of farmers and farming communities and has forged many vital trading relationships. With first-hand knowledge of the industry’s impact at source, Ewan has also helped build our ethical and sustainability credentials.