A CoopCoffees drum-roll please…. Today we are delighted to announce the launch of our Carbon, Climate and Coffee Initiative!
Calculating and tracking our collective carbon footprint and contributing a corresponding financial “offset” amount to our producer-support fund links us to a broader conversation around climate justice. And directly investing in carbon-sequestering, agricultural practices and other innovative, environmental-service projects contributes to the health and sustainable development in producer communities, while strengthening our connections across the supply chain.
What began in 2013, as a CoopCoffees internal “5-cents for Roya” emergency-relief fund, has grown and continues to develop into an increasingly collaborative initiative. From 2014 – 2017 CoopCoffees has partnered with the Root Capital/Progreso Network Climate Resiliency Match Fund. This resulted in some US$650,000 in leveraged funding invested with 11 producer partners across Latin America to strengthen internal technical support and to invest in projects, such as centralized and improved compost production, field renovation, and technical trainings in regenerative, organic practices. During that same period, CoopCoffees hosted four regional events to support farmer-to-farmer learning and exchange to the benefit of 20 farmer cooperatives across Latin America, representing more than 12,500 coffee farmer families.
Along the way, we’ve discovered an incredible capacity within our network of producer partners for innovation, regeneration and the implementation of clear and specific strategies for climate resiliency and adaption. For example in northern Peru, Sol y Cafe is promoting field renovation and systematic pruning practices that have resulted in maintaining extraordinary vitality in their trees and greater climate resiliency in their fields. As we’ve seen in Honduras, Marcala Organica has developed an entire field curriculum focusing on the 5Ms (Organic Matter, Micro-organisms, Minerals, Living Molecules and Grey Matter) – such as that offered in their Diplomado Organico. Following initial exposure to this kind of innovation, we’ve seen positive impact for producer partners in every country we work with – as they experiment, adapt and enhance their own local practices to face ever-changing climate and coffee-production landscapes.
It’s precisely in this context that we’re launching the Carbon, Climate and Coffee Initiative. Following the positive feedback for a programmatic approach to producer support at our Annual General Assembly, we’ve designed a simple plan for coffee roasters to pay a “voluntary carbon tax” in order to build this environmental-service fund, invested directly with our coffee-producer partners. Our launching priority focuses on project-work that encourages reforestation, soil regeneration, and experimentation and learning about other “carbon-capture enhancing” practices. It also would include complementary actions that contribute towards greater environmental balance in producer communities.
We expect this investment to result in multiple win-win scenarios in terms of: improving our own understanding of climate impact and discovering comparative energy efficiencies between roasters; enhancing climate resiliency and productivity with our producer partners and their cooperatives; achieving more stable supply and, thereby, reducing risk for both producers and roasters; and finally, in achieving our ultimate end-goal of greater social, environmental and economic impact for our producer partner families, communities and organizations.
With this new initiative, we are NOT trying to become “carbon accountants.” Nor are we trying to “buy off” our collective, environmental debts. As you’ll see in the following posts, CoopCoffees roaster/owners already have a long history of pro-actively pushing the environmentalist envelope. Examples abound, such as the use of alternative energy sources to power their installations, investing in the most “emission-free” possible roasting equipment, insisting on fully recyclable packaging, implementing bio-gas or bicycle delivery of roasted coffee, and supporting local and international environmental projects. So yes, our roasters are already working hard to soften their respective carbon footprints.
But with this new initiative, we want to acknowledge the environmental services that our organic farming partners already provide and encourage them to continue in their efforts. What we haven’t been able to reduce in CO2 emissions, we can now attempt to offset through community-based projects with our producer partners. The Carbon, Climate and Coffee Initiative is demonstrative of our most sincere intentions to achieve environmental responsibility through local and global actions.
We hope to illustrate with coffee producers and consumers alike that climate solutions exist – and can be as close as the soil under our feet, and the coffee mug in our hands!