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Climate change is putting your morning coffee at risk

By Hanna Kozlowska

Cherish your AM cup of joe? Well, enjoy it while it lasts. Coffee is among the most vulnerable crops to the effects of global warming, the US government said last week.

“Coffee’s a temperature-sensitive crop,” and the rising temperatures caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions “put the world’s coffee-growing regions at risk,” said Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency at the Council on Foreign Relations last Wednesday.

According to a much discussed 2012 study, at best, we can expect a 65% reduction of suitable growing locations for the most popular coffee plant, Arabica, by 2080. The worst case scenario is an almost 100% reduction. The plant accounts for about 70% of the world’s coffee production.

Climate change contributes to severe droughts in coffee-growing regions, as well as unusually high rainfalls, which exacerbates the devastating effects of the coffee rust fungus. What’s more, when temperatures rise, farmers need to grow their Arabica plants at ever higher elevations.

McCarthy warned that greater scarcity will lead to rising costs that are passed onto consumers. She is calling for US leadership on climate change.