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Helping suppliers on the climate change front line

By Jo Whitfield, Food CEO

Back in May, we launched our ten-point climate plan sharing the actions we’re taking to play our part in tackling the global climate emergency. 

Today, with our partners Fairtrade, we’ve published our ‘Climate Justice for People and the Planet’ report which calls on Government to recommit to spending 0.7% of the UK’s Gross National Income on international aid, which is in part used to fund projects supporting some of the world’s poorest communities adapt to changes caused by the climate crisis. 

There will be some who argue that charity should begin at home, but behind every ingredient in Co-op, products lie essential ecosystems and trade that supports people, livelihoods, families, and communities. Unfairly, our global producers who provide us with our essential food and drink are some of the most vulnerable to the shocks of extreme weather and disease outbreaks and are without the resources to protect themselves and their livelihoods. 

It’s expected that the total area of land suitable for coffee growing alone will have halved by 2050.

Alongside the report, we’re announcing our commitment to spend more than 0.7% of our pre-tax profit on international aid for the years to come. We’ve also announced that that we’ve joined forces with Fairtrade Africa and Fairtrade Foundation to support producers combating the effects of climate change. Our new long-term commitment and investment with Fairtrade Africa will help to drive forward Fairtrade’s climate strategy and generate further action on the ground, benefitting producers at the front line of the climate crisis. The new approach will drive a deeper impact with communities by pooling Co-op’s current investment from individual projects into a strategic programme directed by producers themselves.   

The reality is that for many of our suppliers, the impact of the climate crisis is as immediate and pressing as the impact of COVID-19, and that’s what we’ve set out in our report.

Campaigning for climate action 

MPs were given a chance to vote on the decision to cut investment and on the morning of this crucial vote, our Public Affairs team wrote to every single MP attaching a copy of our report. 

We’re extremely disappointed that the Government decided not to return to its world leading commitment of 0.7% of Gross National Income – currently reduced to 0.5%, a cut of almost £4bn. 

We will continue to lobby the government to:

We will continue to invest 0.7%, including to help suppliers on the climate change front line

For years we’ve invested above and beyond 0.7% of our pre-tax profit in international development projects, providing millions of pounds of aid to increase access to water, hygiene, sanitation, and emergency relief for some of the world’s poorest communities and vulnerable people across our supply chain. 

In 2020 Co-op invested £3.3m in overseas projects such as water, hygiene and sanitation support in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities through its partnerships with The One Foundation and Water Unite; conservation and reforestation projects in Borneo in partnership with Chester Zoo; and provision of food parcels and PPE to 2,000 Fairtrade farmers and workers who produce cocoa in Peru, in partnership with its supplier ICAM Chocolate UK.   

Read the full ‘Climate Justice for People and the Planet’ report here.

Explore our 10 point climate plan in more detail here