Study finds global coffee production at risk from climate change

“During any given year, climate hazards such as heatwaves, droughts, frosts and floods can each affect coffee yield.”

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A new study suggests that as global temperatures continue to rise, the world’s coffee supply will become less reliable. The study, “Synchronous climate hazards pose an increasing challenge to global coffee production,” was published in the journal PLOS Climate and looked at the climate conditions that interfere with coffee yield.

Climate factors such as rainfall, temperature and humidity were all considered to be a hazard affecting the dozen biggest coffee-producing countries in the world from 1980 to 2020, EcoWatch reported.

“During any given year, climate hazards such as heatwaves, droughts, frosts and floods can each affect coffee yield,” the authors said.

During the study’s time frame, “climate hazards” have caused unfavorable growing conditions in all coffee growing regions. The study determined that “five out of six of the most challenging years for coffee cultivation happened between 2010 and 2020,” EcoWatch reported.

“With climate change projections showing a continued rise in temperatures in the tropics is likely, we suggest that coffee production can expect ongoing systemic shocks,” the authors of the study said. “As with other crops, a systemic risk to the global coffee trade is posed by synchronized crop failures.”

Most of the global is grown in Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Ethiopia, Uganda, Indonesia and Vietnam

“Major arabica regions in the far southeast of Brazil and southwest Ethiopia are amongst the least susceptible regions to climate hazards,” the authors of the study wrote.

The study concluded that during the study period, “coffee growing regions were inclined to be too cold for optimum coffee cultivation—robusta and arabica, the two main types of coffee in the world, grow at temperatures of 71.6 to 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit and 64.4 to 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Focusing on 12 hazards identified from the literature, we showed that there is substantial variation in which hazards are experienced by the top 12 coffee-producing nations,” the authors said. “A particular hazard may never have occurred in some regions. Conversely, in some places a ‘hazard’ may be an ever-present feature of the climate, implying cultivation practices such as irrigation or shading are used to ensure optimal productivity.”

Currently, researchers determined that all of the 12 regions are too hot and therefore, have “never experience too-cold growing season temperatures.” Dr. Doug Richardson, lead author of the study, said his team was “pretty confident” that the change in conditions was caused by climate change.

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