Milk or sugar? Americano or cappuccino? When it comes to coffee, these are more commonly asked questions than what concerns me as a coffee-drinking forester: What is coffee’s carbon footprint? Has this cup contributed to deforestation? These questions also concern coffee buyers trying to “green” their supply chains.
To find answers, USAID Green Invest Asia partnered with two of the world’s largest coffee corporations—Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) and Nestlé—to help them reduce their carbon footprints in Asia. USAID Green Invest Asia helps corporations sourcing agriculture and forestry commodities from Southeast Asia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in better land use practices across the region.
Southeast Asia is a key commodity-sourcing region since it supplies most of the world’s rice, rubber, and coconuts and 16 percent of the world's coffee exports. However, the rate of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from agriculture and land use change in this region is twice the global average, and most recent deforestation is from crop expansion.
USAID Green Invest Asia is showing that corporations can reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster by working together and harmonizing their sourcing requirements so suppliers are incentivized to become climate-positive. By encouraging companies to collaborate, the coffee industry is now a global leader in sustainable commodity production and in tackling GHGs.
The project recently conducted a carbon footprint analysis for one of the world’s leading coffee roasters, JDE, with some key suppliers in its coffee sourcing areas in Vietnam. JDE has committed to 100 percent responsibly sourced coffee from its suppliers by 2025. We are also supporting Nestlé’s ambitions to halve emissions by 2030 and to be a “net-zero” company by 2050. Since Vietnam’s Central Highlands are a critical origin for Robusta coffee globally, multiple major coffee roasters share suppliers. Thus, through purchasing decisions, buyers can help ensure that standards to protect and prolong the industry are aligned and implemented.
Due to increased climate risks, many companies and partners are collaborating to generate public goods—as JDE has done by releasing its carbon data and analysis. Collaboration is bringing new insights into business operations and reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. USAID Green Invest Asia is building successful partnerships with key actors across coffee supply chains and supporting “pre-competitive” collaboration that makes possible resilient, profitable, and low-carbon coffee production across the region. For example, the project supported an 18-month process with seven leading buyers who account for at least 40 percent of coconut trade volume—an industry valued at some $40 billion annually—to launch the first Sustainable Coconut Charter, a joint industry pledge to improve coconut sourcing. Signatories are already implementing recommendations.
What keeps me going (in addition to coffee) is knowing that a cup of low-carbon coffee is within reach – and other commodities can and must follow. USAID Green Invest Asia is committed to supporting many companies and commodities to facilitate sector-level change. This change will happen when market leaders are financed, technically supported, and collaborating with one another.
For more information or to download the report, visit www.greeninvestasia.com/research.