Past Event

Empty Cups: Climate Change and a Future Without Coffee

June 25, 2021
8:00 AM - 9:15 AM
Online Event

A conversation on the intersection of human rights, climate change, and your morning brew.

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About this event

From the local café to your personal pantry, the effortlessness with which we obtain our daily cup of coffee is deceiving. In fact, nothing about coffee is particularly easy. Coffee is a demanding and highly sensitive commodity. And coffee crops respond impulsively to weather variations. In Mexico, for instance, changing weather patterns and rising temperatures have exposed coffee to leaf rust. This meant affected farmers lost around 40 percent of their crop in a 2012 outbreak. Today, nearly ten years later, the fungus continues to pose a serious challenge to farmers’ livelihoods. In Africa, meanwhile, rising temperatures means coffee production is increasingly vulnerable to pests, long dry spells or sudden torrential rains – all of which threaten the existence of coffee crops altogether.

Coffee is a global commodity, but the cost of production varies from farm to farm. International prices do not reflect the full economic, social and environmental costs of climate change on coffee production, failing to provide fair incomes to farmers and compromising their quality of life and that of their communities. Currently, the coffee price is so far below Fairtrade’s minimum price that it does not even cover the cost of production.

Pair the economic and trade impact of the coffee market with the unpredictable effects of climate change and we have an issue of concern for both coffee growers and coffee consumers. The future of coffee is at risk.

Enter Empty Cups: Climate Change and the Future of Coffee – a virtual panel event hosted by the Earth Institute’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and Fairtrade International –will explore the nexus of climate change and social justice in the world’s coffee industry and what consumers, industry and legislators can do to effect change.


  • Juan Pablo Solis, Senior Climate Advisor, Fairtrade International
  • Juan Nicolás Hernandez-Aguilera, Research Scientist, IRI
  • Zeddy Rotich, Coffee Producer, Growing Women in Coffee
  • Bernard Njoroge, Senior Project Officer - Coffee, Fairtrade Africa


  • Amanda Grossi, Staff Associate, IRI

The mission of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) is to enhance society’s capability to understand, anticipate and manage the impacts of climate in order to improve human welfare and the environment, especially in developing countries. The IRI conducts this mission through strategic and applied research, education, capacity building, and by providing forecasts and information products with an emphasis on practical and verifiable utility and partnership.

Fairtrade changes the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries. Fairtrade's approach enables farmers and workers to have more control over their lives and decide how to invest in their future. As a leader in the global movement to make trade fair, Fairtrade supports and challenges businesses and governments while connecting farmers and workers with the people who buy their products. By choosing Fairtrade, people can create change through their everyday actions.

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