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Fairtrade to world leaders: climate change is here and affecting farmers now

Speaking to world leaders at the Climate Ambition Summit, Fairtrade Africa’s Mary Kinyua said progress to net zero is not fast enough, and called for governments to work harder to bring down supply chain emissions.

Mary Kinyua, the chair of Fairtrade Africa, delivered a rallying call on behalf of Fairtrade farmers to Heads of Government meeting at the COP26 Ambition Summit – on Saturday, 12 December, 2020.

Speaking from Kenya on behalf of the 1.7 million farmers and workers around the world represented by Fairtrade, she welcomed business and government plans for net zero emissions, but said: ‘We’re not going fast enough. Change by 2050 is too late. The weather is changing now.’

Referencing the recent hurricanes that have devastated Central America in the last month, where crops of coffee, cocoa, honey, and vegetables have been destroyed, Ms Kinyua called on governments around the world to act now and protect the world’s farmers by, ‘bringing down supply chain emissions, to set targets, and take steps to support and if need be compel businesses to decarbonise their supply chains.’

Climate change is the biggest threat to farmers’ livelihoods – not only in the global south, but worldwide. Ms Kinyua said, ‘We cannot expect – and it is not fair to expect – producers to absorb the costs of more sustainable methods of farming when they’re not even able to earn a living income or living wage, because the price they receive for their produce is far too low. This needs to change – and it needs to change fast.

‘Tackling climate change properly means helping farmers and workers with the cost of switching to low carbon production and transport. And that cannot happen if we’re not prepared to pay for it.

‘So as a matter of justice and a matter of science, action on the climate crisis cannot be delayed any longer.’

Fairtrade welcomes the opportunity from the summit organisers for Ms Kinyua to bring the voices of farmers and workers directly to world leaders today. More and more companies are talking to Fairtrade about working to reduce emissions but stronger government action is needed. Ending her message, Ms Kinyua said, ‘the work we will do together over the next year we hope will result in a COP that puts us firmly on the path to net zero.’

Watch Mary Kinyua’s message online (or on demand) from 14:00 GMT on Saturday 12 December using the ‘watch’ option.


For more information, interviews and images, please contact Justin Avern: justin.avern@fairtrade.org.uk

Notes for editors

Mary Kinyua is the chair of Fairtrade Africa and the representative of the Fairtrade International board to the COP26 Civil Society and Youth Council convened by the COP President Designate. Her speech is given on behalf of the 1.7 million farmers and workers in the global Fairtrade system.

Read more about the Hurricanes Eta and Iota which hit Central American countries in November

About Fairtrade

The international Fairtrade system exists to end poverty through trade. The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body and NGO which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on more than 6,000 products which meet its rigorous social, economic and environmental standards. This independent label signifies to consumers that farmers and workers across 75 developing countries are getting a better deal from trade.

Today, more than 1.7 million people who work hard to produce coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, wines, flowers, cotton, gold and many other products benefit from Fairtrade, which campaigns for as well as enables a fairer system of global trade.

Beyond certification, the Fairtrade Foundation is deepening its impact by delivering specialist programmes to help disadvantaged communities boost productivity in the face of challenges such as climate change, or crises such as COVID-19.