World Meteorological Organization
Today, we are witnessing significant changes in our weather and climate patterns and extreme events worldwide. Humanity is having an impact – contributing to a vicious cycle that threatens to amplify global warming and natural disasters. Humanity is also being impacted – the degree to which depends upon where and how we live. We must double down our efforts to significantly lessen our impact on a changing climate and make concerted efforts to improve our resilience to climate change.
STORMS AT A SCALE AUTHORITIES CAN’T WEATHER
We don’t need to look far for evidence of climate change. In 2022 alone, unprecedented rainfall has caused devastating flooding, from New Zealand1 to Pakistan2. Exceptional heatwaves have set new records in Western Europe and Northern Africa, as have intensifying tropical cyclones or hurricanes in South East Asia, the Caribbean and US.3 These shifting climatic patterns are also affecting the distribution of water resources – meaning nearly half of the world’s population live in areas where they will experience water scarcity by 2050.4
In many cases, the scale of such events exceeds local, regional and even national authorities’ capacity to respond.5 Over the past four decades, weather and climate-related disasters generated more than USD 5 trillion in economic losses and have displaced more than 7 billion people.6
TIME IS NOT ON OUR SIDE
Changes in weather patterns are normally driven by natural forces. However, humanity is having an overwhelming and lingering impact. Unfortunately, time is not on our side. Carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere can persist for up to a decade.7 These heat trapping gases contribute directly to the amplification of a warming atmosphere. This in turn leads to more frequent and intense storms, heatwaves, floods and droughts.8 Beyond industry and commerce, each of us too have a carbon footprint – some more than others depending upon our decisions, actions and consumption patterns. Even with policy measures committed to date, the World Meteorological Organization estimates that the global average temperature will be around 3 degrees Celsius over the pre-industrial period by the end of the century and potentially reach 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the decade.9
Put simply, the impacts of climate change will become increasingly destructive, unless we take more and sustained urgent actions to reduce our collective impact. Efforts to reduce this trend will succeed if governments, businesses and individuals are better aware of their footprint on the environment and undertake actions to reduce it, mitigating their impact on climate change and building up their collective resilience to a changing climate.
THE ROLE OF REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE
Within agriculture, which accounts for a quarter (24%) of global greenhouse gas emissions,10 there is a tension. Pressure to feed a growing population has pushed farmers to increase yields through intensive land use, chemical fertilisation and feed-lot production, increasing vulnerabilities to climate change and threatening 86% of species with extinction.11 The need to act is even more pressing when we consider how devastating extreme weather and climate events are to farming communities, potentially even threatening the viability of entire crops. Coffee is one such example: 60% of wild coffee species are endangered,12 and 50% of the land used to grow coffee today may become unviable by 2050.13
Agriculture can and is playing an important part in the solution. In coffee growing communities, progressive farms are adopting innovative methods to sequester carbon, undertaking reforestation to create shade for coffee plants, and implementing regenerative practices to improve soil health and water conservation.14 With a global farming transformation, it is possible to collectively address the climate challenge while positively impacting the resilience of farming communities, their local biodiversity and their future.
REALISING A NET-ZERO CARBON EMISSION WORLD
Today, there is a growing spirit of optimism that before it is too late, we can achieve a world where what carbon we emit is balanced by the carbon we can capture or sequester - a net-zero outcome. Through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), governments are pledging to meet this objective. Financial institutions are now factoring the degree of climate risk in their portfolios, along with compensating strategies to mitigate them. Many businesses like Nespresso also are now making the commitments and taking action to achieve this goal. We as individuals can do this too.
We already have many of the solutions the world needs to collectively reduce our impact on the climate and to adapt to a changing one - not without recognising some of the cultural and societal challenges in implementing these solutions. From switching to renewables or low carbon intensity fuels for our energy needs, to helping protect local biodiversity, we can all take steps to help mitigate climate change. Such will and commitment would help us move from growing climate awareness, to proactively taking urgent and lasting ‘climate-smart actions’ – including measures to reduce our own individual carbon footprints, government incentives to support such actions, and initiatives by businesses that adopt and promote such activity throughout their supply chains.
Every action makes a difference and can, collectively, contribute towards a lasting positive outcome for our children and our grandchildren.
1 New Zealand floods: hundreds evacuate as ‘atmospheric river’ brings deluge | The Guardian
2 Devastating floods in Pakistan | UNICEF
3 Four key climate change indicators break records in 2021 | World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)
4 Water Stress to Affect 52% of World’s Population by 2050 | Waterfootprint.org
5 Climate change: a threat to human wellbeing and health of the planet | IPCC.ch
6 Climate and weather related disasters surge five-fold over 50 years | (WMO)
7 Climate Change Indicators: Greenhouse Gases | US Environmental Protection Agency
9 UN Emissions Gap Report | United Nations
10 Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data | US EPA
11 How Your Company Can Support Regenerative Agriculture | Rainforest Alliance (rainforest-alliance.org)
12 Kew scientists reveal that 60% of wild coffee species are threatened with extinction | Royal Botanic Gardens
13 A climate of crisis: Farmers, our food and the fight for justice | Fairtrade
14 Climate Resilience Through Agroforestry | Nespresso | UNICEF