Leading businesses join in the fight against climate change

Fairtrade’s innovative new Carbon Credits program has created a buzz among leading businesses following its launch at the UN climate change talks in Paris last week. European businesses are leading the way, with several companies already signed on to the new scheme.

Logistics company Deutsche Post DHL Group and international retailer Marks & Spencer are among a raft of businesses to partner with Fairtrade in a new initiative to support farmers and vulnerable rural communities in their fight against climate change. Others who have committed to join the scheme include a renewable energy supplier and two leading coffee roasters.

Fairtrade Carbon Credits, which are regulated through the Fairtrade Climate Standard, have been developed in partnership with the Gold Standard, an internationally recognised organisation with expertise in climate security and sustainable development. They enable vulnerable communities in developing countries to reduce emissions while also strengthening themselves against the effects of climate change. A minimum price ensures costs are covered, and producers receive a Fairtrade Premium for each credit sold, money which they can then invest in adapting to the effects of climate change on their farms and communities. For businesses, Fairtrade Carbon Credits can help them take responsibility for any unavoidable emissions once they’ve done everything to 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.”

“The fact that major international companies like Deutsche Post DHL Group have committed right from the outset shows there’s a real demand for Fairtrade Carbon Credits,” said Hill.

Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand are thrilled at the launch of the new scheme, which they see as vital to support our Pacific neighbours, who are among the worst hit by climate change.

“Under this scheme, businesses can rest assured that their involvement will be assisting farmers in developing countries to, not only fight back against climate change, but improve health, education and employment outcomes,” said Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand CEO, Molly Harriss Olson. “The benefits of this innovative scheme will be felt globally all the way from the Pacific Islands to the 860,000 Fairtrade farmers and workers across Africa.”

“The Fairtrade Climate Standard enables cooperatives like ours to combat the effects of climate change,” said Dessalegn Jena, General Manager of Oromia Coffee Farmers’ Union, which is one of the first cooperatives to pilot the Fairtrade Climate Standard, with the support of FairClimateFund. “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.”

Deutsche Post DHL Group will apply the new Fairtrade Climate Standard to its own project in Lesotho, Southern Africa. With its partner atmosfair, the logistics company distributed efficient cooking stoves to local communities, reducing emissions and improving health and quality of life. “Driving climate protection has been top of our agenda for years: Already a decade ago we developed a climate neutral service including social benefits. Hence it was very clear for us that we would commit to Fairtrade certification, too. The new Fairtrade Climate Standard emphasizes that it does matter what you buy and will make it easier for our customers and ourselves to contribute to a better planet,” said Katharina Tomoff, responsible for the GoGreen program of Deutsche Post DHL Group.

Among other early adopters of the Fairtrade Carbon Credits are Dutch renewable energy company Eneco, who aims to offer climate neutral products to its customers; Belgian coffee roasters Beyers, who are going to make their Fairtrade certified coffee climate neutral, and the Java Coffee Company who have committed to Fairtrade climate neutral coffee for the European institutions in 2016; and German honey producers Breitsamer who have committed to buying credits in 2016 to compensate for their 2015 CO² emissions.

Coinciding with the launch of the Carbon Credits program, Fairtrade has released a short animation which highlights the growing impact climate change will have on producers around the world.

Molly Harriss Olson said “We are fortunate in Fairtrade to work with business partners all over the world who are committed to having a positive impact to help the world’s most marginalized producers. We look forward to welcoming our companies in Australia and New Zealand to join us in this exciting new program.”

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