People ‘ignore’ climate threat to their food

CLIMATE change causes a drastic drop in the production of bananas, cocoa and coffee; but most consumers in the UK are unaware of this, according to a new survey. The decline is expected to lead to shortages and price hikes.

The results of a survey to gauge shoppers’ awareness of the effects of climate change and abusive trading practices on food production have been released to coincide with the Fair Trade Fortnight, which runs until March 6.

More than 60% of the 2,000 adults surveyed at the end of January were unaware of the predicted drop in yields of certain foods.

Scientific research, published last fall, revealed that a drastic decline of these crops would occur in at least ten countries, including India, Brazil and Colombia. A temperature rise of 2.1°C could render almost 90% of the land currently used for growing cocoa unsuitable by 2050.

The survey found that three-quarters of the public felt it was important to help overseas producers adapt to climate change. Two-thirds said they would not buy a product if they knew it was linked to abusive business practices or human rights abuses.

The consumer survey, commissioned by the Fairtrade Foundation and led by Opinium, suggests that although public understanding of the links between reasonable incomes for farmers and climate resilience is weak, there is strong public will to tackle inequalities caused by commercial exploitation and climate change. .

The survey also looked at whether the Black Lives Matter movement and increased awareness of Britain’s colonial past had affected people’s understanding of the exploitative trade. Only a quarter of Britons said they were more aware of the exploitation of people caused by the UK’s colonial past, and only a fifth said they had thought about how to make consumer choices to avoid supporting exploitation today. One in ten said they thought harmful and exploitative business practices were a thing of the past.

Most respondents said more needs to be done to prevent harmful business practices and the climate crisis, and that the government needs to address the climate emergency with the same urgency as Covid-19.

However, less than half of those surveyed considered buying Fairtrade products a form of climate activism.

Director of the Graduate Institute for International Development, Agriculture and Economics at the University of Reading, Dr Sarah Cardey, said consumers have the power to change people’s lives with their food choices. purchase.

“Smallholder farmers in low-income countries are on the front lines of the climate crisis, with droughts, floods and storms seriously threatening the livelihoods of producers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. For these farmers and workers, a decent income is absolutely essential to building resilience to climate shocks and ensuring they can adapt to an ever-changing climate.

“Without good wages, their livelihoods are seriously threatened, as is the supply of everyday products that these farmers and workers produce. Consumers have the power to make a difference in the lives of producers by choosing Fairtrade products when shopping. This, in turn, will help growers build climate resilience, allowing them to continue producing items, like tea, coffee and bananas, that we consume every day.

Fairtrade Foundation Chief Executive Michael Gidney said: “It is clear that the public wants to see an end to trade that exploits those who produce the products we depend on every day – especially in the context of the climate. By choosing Fairtrade they can make a real and tangible difference in the lives of the people who grow much of the food we love to eat in the UK.

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