Carbon Footprinting Experts Call for Aligned Methodology in Coffee Sector 

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August 1, 2022 (BANGKOK) – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Green Invest Asia project and Global Coffee Platform convened experts for a June 29th webinar on ways to increase collaboration in the coffee sector—to create a common framework for establishing carbon footprint baselines and drive climate action. 

“To get to net-zero, you need to know your net now, but if you have attempted in recent years to inventory your company’s direct or indirect emissions across complex supply chains, you will have realized that carbon footprinting methodologies have continued to be an evolving science given the various tools, standards, and practices,” said USAID’s senior Natural Resources Officer for Asia, Todd Johnson, articulating challenges that have blunted efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in coffee production. Lack of comparable data, lack of standardized carbon accounting methodologies, and opaque traceability continue to thwart well-intentioned efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions in coffee production. 

“Without baseline data, we can’t really understand [climate] benefits,” said Sara Diamond, Technical Lead for USAID’s Natural Climate Solutions Program. “We need to think beyond our own supply chains and adjacent landscapes, [but also] landscapes across jurisdictional scales, as well as across ecological  scales.” 

She presented USAID’s AFOLU (Agriculture, forestry and other land use) calculator, and explained how the tool’s design addressed the need for a multifunctional comprehensive carbon measurement tool that gathered verifiable data and included geospatial functionality. 

USAID Green Invest Asia’s Senior Agriculture and Forestry Advisor, Barry Flaming, provided updates about a joint carbon footprint baseline initiative that USAID Green Invest Asia has launched with the world’s two largest coffee roasters, Nestlé and JDE Peet’s, and 11 of the companies’ key suppliers in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and Southern Sumatra in Indonesia. The suppliers represent the world’s largest green coffee bean trading companies active in the two coffee producing regions as well as internationally. The team has designed a framework to collect representative data from sample farmers, with data collection to begin shortly. “This initiative really does hinge upon the role that the supplier partners are able to take and help us conduct data collection,” said Flaming. “That’s the big heavy lift in this part of the project.”

“At Louis Dreyfus Company, we are committed to boosting sustainability within our value chains, leveraging our leading position to promote the adoption of sustainability practices and standards among suppliers. To that end, we are happy to partner with USAID Green Invest Asia to standardize and harmonize such data collection exercise related to the carbon footprint of the coffee production, which we believe will lead to better insights to help fight emissions in not only our supply chains but others as well, ” said Charlotte Guibbaud-Navaud, LDC’s Asia/Africa Sustainability Manager for Coffee. 

Laurent Bossolasco, Regional Manager Asia Pacific for ECOM Sustainable Management Services, also participating in the joint baseline initiative, said that this precompetitive partnership will allow ECOM to measure its own carbon footprint performance within its operated supply chains versus a sectoral benchmark. “We can’t say enough at the start of such a journey [to meet climate commitments] how important it is to have an alignment on definition and targets.”

Raina Lang with the Sustainable Coffee Challenge reflected on interest in the coffee sector to replicate this approach in other important global coffee origins in Latin America and elsewhere, including in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala.

Experts circled back to value chain transparency, confidence in data, collaboration and cooperation across jurisdictions (where coffee is sourced from) as requisites for industry actors to agree on a common methodology to account for carbon emissions, which is needed to measure the coffee sector’s progress on greenhouse gas emission reduction. But it isn’t only about greenhouse gas emissions from the coffee sector, said USAID’s Todd Johnson. “The climate solutions you collectively undertake influence more than just your business, your supply chain, or your sector. Coffee’s prominence in international trade was valued at slightly over $30 billion in 2020. So in summary, methodologies matter.”

USAID will work with experts and entrepreneurs to achieve ambitious emissions reductions through natural climate solutions. The USAID’s 2022-2030 Climate Strategy aims to shift the market to resilient net- zero economies through mobilizing $150 billion of investments from the private sector, and partnering with the business and financial institutions to reach the goal of reducing, avoiding, or sequestering six billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent – roughly equal to the United States’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

To learn more about the Sustainable Coffee Dialogue series,  please contact [[email protected]]. 


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