Ben & Jerry’s joins Tony’s Chocolonely uniting behind Fairtrade’s call for climate justice

Major ice cream business Ben & Jerry’s and Tony’s Chocolonely impact brand, have united with UK retailers Co-op, M&S and Waitrose, as Fairtrade partners signing a pledge backing climate justice ahead of the global COP26 summit, reports Neill Barston.

The companies have signed a business pledge urging world governments and leaders to listen to the voices of farmers – the people who grow the world’s food and other essential goods in low-income, climate-vulnerable nations – as the farmers call for urgent action at COP26.

It follows the publication of an open letter on behalf of 1.8 million farmers to governments attending the international environmental event that their perceived lack of sufficient action directly threatens threatening farmers’ livelihoods and global food supplies, effectively deepening poverty.

As Confectionery Production has previously reported, Fairtrade has produced a position paper ahead of the key COP26 event next month, with the ongoing plight of farmers in core agricultural markets including Ghana and Ivory Coast highlighted as being of urgent importance. The organisation described those working in the sector as ‘on the frontline of the climate crisis’ and noted that it was critical to factor in sufficient support for them in delivering meaningful environmental impacts.

In the subsequent collaborative pledge, developed by Fairtrade as part of its Be Fair With Your Climate Promise campaign, the companies commit to take accountability for their own climate impact. They also commit to work alongside the global organisation to protect and invest in the resilience and green transition of global food supply chains in the face of the climate crisis.

As businesses sourcing from Fairtrade producers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the signatories to the pledge see the climate crisis hitting the people in their supply chains disproportionately hard. Increasingly volatile weather is damaging crops, harming livelihoods for farming communities, and making crop production more unpredictable.

In the view of Fairtrade, governments should set key science-based targets to tangibly drive down rates of environmental impact in the coming years to avert climate change.

Cheryl Pinto, Global Values Led Sourcing Manager, Ben & Jerry’s, says: “This is an issue of justice, so together with our fans and Fairtrade we call on world leaders to take urgent action. 1.5°C warming will disproportionately and negatively impact disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.

“This means that the people who grow our food in climate vulnerable nations, where they are already suffering the consequences of climate change yet did the least to cause it, face a bleak, daunting future as their livelihoods are increasingly threatened. The $100 billion climate finance promise must be met and delivered, so that it reaches farmers, strengthens their resilience, and supports a just, fair future for all.”

Other Fairtrade signatories to the pledge include Bewleys, BIDBI, Cafédirect, Clipper, Coliman, Cru Kafe, Equal Exchange, Greggs, Kaladi, Liberation Nuts, Matthew Algie, Navitas and People Tree. Together, all the signatories commit to four key areas of action as part of their ongoing work in their international supply chains, and they call on other businesses to do likewise:

1. To pay fair prices to producers – farmers and workers should not have to choose between tackling poverty and building resilience to the climate crisis. ‘Our Fairtrade commitments are critical to achieving this,’ say the companies.

2. To be long term partners with farming communities, listening to the experience of farmers, sharing their own expertise and investing in the urgent transitions farmers need. They will back a shift in food production and supply to one that is resilient to the changing climate, including backing nature-based solutions. They will support farmers as they work together to cut the emissions embedded throughout their supply chains.

3. To “know and show” their climate impact, by measuring carbon emissions embedded in their supply chains, assessing the climate risks faced at farm level, and publishing the results. The companies say they want to raise awareness about the challenges and the practical solutions, setting a high bar for other businesses.

4. To speak out, calling in public and private for Governments to set and deliver ambitious targets for emissions reduction and climate finance which puts farmers and agricultural workers first.

The open letter devised by the Fairtrade movement represented agricultural communities across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in a number of markets, including the key cocoa trade serving the confectionery industry.

It read: “We grow the food eaten at the tables of people all around the world, as well as other essential produce. But our ability to do so has been badly damaged by the reckless harm done to our environment from years of broken promises concerning the climate crisis.

“You promised to cut the emissions that drive extreme weather, which dry up our fields one day and flood them the next. But emissions are increasing dangerously while your ambition remains too low. You promised to provide climate finance, to help us keep growing food despite the changing weather. But next to nothing is reaching us. You promised to change business from exploiter to partner. But shareholders earn billions while millions of farmers earn less than a dollar a day.”

Furthermore, the letter calls out the broken promises from world leaders. It demands that the promised $100 billion climate finance is not only paid, but that those funds reach farmers and workers directly to ensure they can withstand the growing challenges of climate change, including by planting more trees and investing in more resilient crops.

Frits Snel, Tony’s Chocolonely Country Manager, US, said: “We can’t achieve social justice on a broken planet. And climate injustice often means the ones actively contributing to climate change feel its repercussions least. This reinforces the structural inequality of global industry and economy. Practically speaking, this also means cocoa farmers are already feeling the consequences of climate change.

“We’re proud to be carbon neutral, to work with farmers in protecting the land and to produce plastic free packaging. But there’s certainly more to be done. We aim to keep raising the environmental bar together with farmers and our partners at Fairtrade.”

As the organisation noted, British convenience retailer Co-op recently announced a commitment in their recent Climate Justice for People and Planet report to continue to spend more than 0.7% of their pre-tax profit on international aid and has joined forces with Fairtrade Africa and Fairtrade Foundation to support producers combating the effects of climate change.

Jo Whitfield, Food CEO from the Co-op said: “We are reliant on the global food system for the food we enjoy. However, the reality is that for many of our suppliers the impact of the climate crisis is immediate and pressing. That’s why we’ve been calling on governments to ensure producers in low-income countries receive support to cover the cost of adapting to climate change and transitioning to low carbon production, and on businesses to play their part too.”

Speaking on behalf of the global Fairtrade campaign, Mary Linnell-Simmons, Director of Marketing and External Relations at Fairtrade America, says: “We welcome support for farmers from these forward-looking brands and retailers. It’s imperative that businesses take a lead by earnestly committing themselves to supporting the farmers in their international supply chains. We call on other businesses to do the same. It is more important than ever that we listen to our farmers, raise their voices and ensure governments and businesses alike act now!”

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