New FairTrade Climate Standard Enables Smallholders And Rural Communities To Fight Climate Change

Businesses looking for innovative ways to take positive climate action by reducing their carbon footprint and compensating their emissions will soon have a new weapon in their fight against climate change, with the new Fairtrade Climate Standard.

Building bricks for clean cookstoves. 20,000 coffee producing families in Ethiopia received clean cookstoves in an energy efficiency pilot project. Photo by Roger Van Zaal.

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The standard marks the final step in the development of Fairtrade Carbon Credits, which will be launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP21, taking place in Paris later this year. Developed in collaboration with the Gold Standard Foundation, an internationally recognised organisation with expertise in climate and development projects, the Fairtrade Climate Standard is an add-on standard to Gold Standard certification of carbon emissions reductions and sustainable development benefits.

The standard enables producers to improve their resilience to climate change, while also making their own contribution to reducing emissions. A minimum price ensures the costs of running the carbon reduction project are covered. What’s more, producers receive a Fairtrade Premium for each credit sold: money to support them in the fight against the impacts of climate change in their communities.

“Fairtrade Carbon Credits are an important innovation to help poor producers who suffer some of the worst impacts of climate change,” said Molly Harriss Olson, CEO of Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand. “Buying Fairtrade Carbon Credits means we can both reduce climate carbon while empowering producers in developing countries to take control of their futures and adapt and mitigate the climate change impacts they are already feeling.”

Victor Biwot, Operations Manager at the Sireet Fairtrade tea cooperative in Kenya knows firsthand the impact climate change will have on his livelihood. “If climate change continues unchecked, we won’t be able to grow tea in Kenya. I urge businesses to buy Fairtrade Carbon Credits so farmers can become more resilient,” he said. “Every Fairtrade Carbon Credit means one less tonne of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.”

Fairtrade producers and vulnerable rural communities run projects such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, and forestry, which make them eligible for carbon credits. These credits are then bought on the voluntary market by companies, organisations and individuals who want to compensate for their carbon emissions and the producers get a Fairtrade Premium for each credit sold. The premium is then invested by the farmers themselves into projects to make them more resilient to the effects of a changing climate, like planting climate resilient crops or shade trees or investing into food security.

One such Fairtrade project aiming to get certified under the new standard is in Gimbi, Ethiopia, where women coffee growers have switched to energy efficient cookstoves. Not only do they use less energy, they are healthier, fewer trees are cut down for fuel and the women spend less time finding firewood. The extra income generated by Fairtrade Carbon Credits will allow them to adapt their farms to the changing climate – essential in a country where global warming means more disease and reduced yields.

“This is the first standard of its kind to address the imbalances in the carbon market and make sure there is fair financial return for the producers,” said Andreas Kratz, Director of Standards and Pricing at Fairtrade International. “It ensures we are linking actions to compensate emissions with offering producers the support they need to tackle the effects of climate change on their livelihoods and communities.”

"We're happy to have Fairtrade join us in helping to finance the transition to a low carbon economy that's so urgently needed," says Marion Verles, CEO of Gold Standard. "For any company or individual looking to make a direct impact on protecting our climate and promoting development around the world, this is a no brainer."

Fairtrade is currently selecting the first road testing projects to be certified; the first Fairtrade Carbon Credits will be available from the start of 2016.
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