For generations, the exploitation of people and planet has caused extreme global inequality and a climate emergency.
Fairtrade farmers are urging world leaders to keep promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions and provide finance to those most affected by the climate crisis.
An open letter on behalf of 1.8 million Fairtrade farmers and agricultural workers who grow some of the world’s key crops, such as coffee and cocoa, warns that their ability to produce them is being badly damaged by climate change.
It criticises rich nations, which are most responsible for the emissions driving rising temperatures, for failing to honour their pledges to cut carbon and deliver 100 billion US dollars a year to help poor countries and communities adapt to global warming and develop clean economies.
The open letter has been signed by representatives of Fairtrade producer networks in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
It will be delivered in person by a delegation of farmers attending the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, where countries are under pressure to increase their ambition to tackle dangerous global warming.
It accuses world leaders of broken promises, with low ambition and dangerously increasing emissions, and warned that “next to nothing” in climate finance was reaching poor farmers to help them keep growing food despite the changing weather.
The letter also accuses leaders of failing to meet a promise to “change business from exploiter to partner”, with shareholders still earning billions while millions of farmers earn less than a dollar a day.
And it warns that climate change is worsening poverty and the harms fall disproportionately on women in farming households, who are often the lowest paid and working in the most difficult conditions.
The letter says: “We grow the food eaten at the tables of people all around the world, as well as other essential produce.
“But our ability to do so has been badly damaged by the reckless harm done to our environment from years of broken promises concerning the climate crisis.”
The farmers say they are taking action to plant trees to shade cocoa and protect tea plantations from flooding. Fairtrade teams are sharing know-how that producers need to protect their crops.
And they say they are working in partnership with responsible buyers of their produce to give them the investment through fair prices and Fairtrade premiums they need to make farms more resilient and cut emissions.
But they called on polluting countries to immediately deliver on the promise to provide 100 billion US dollars a year in climate finance and to have the “courage” to cut emissions in line with scientific advice to curb dangerous warming.
And they ask for future trade deals to drive trade in fair and low-carbon produce, helping farmers and businesses who tackle the climate crisis.
World leaders are also being encouraged to strengthen business regulations to encourage companies to invest in sustainable supply chains, pay fair prices and take responsibility for environmental issues, including curbing deforestation.
Fairtrade Africa’s commercial director, Kate Nkatha Ochieng’, who is part of the Fairtrade delegation representing farmers at Cop26 in Glasgow, urged leaders to pay attention to the urgent call for action.
“For generations, the exploitation of people and planet has caused extreme global inequality and a climate emergency.
“Wealthy nations must deliver on their promise to invest in tackling climate change right now.
“After decades of all-talk-and-no-action, the UN Cop26 is our last best chance to change our collective fate and prioritise farming communities already living with the harsh effects of climate change.”
Ben & Jerry’s, Tony’s Chocolonely, Co-op, M&S and Waitrose are among the businesses that have signed a pledge urging governments to listen to the farmers, and committing to take accountability for their own climate impact and to work with Fairtrade to support green and resilient supply chains.
Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.