Companies pledge support to vulnerable supply chains through Fairtrade Carbon Credits scheme

Logistics company DHL and retailer Marks & Spencer are among a host of businesses backing a new Fairtrade initiative which offsets 'unavoidable' emissions by supporting rural supply chains.

Credits will be generated from sustainable projects in developing countries which companies can then purchase to reduce carbon footprints

Credits will be generated from sustainable projects in developing countries which companies can then purchase to reduce carbon footprints

Companies can purchase Fairtrade Carbon Credits from vulnerable communities in developing countries which are implementing sustainable initiatives. Buying these credits allows the business to lower its own carbon footprint while providing climate finance for the rural developers.

Sustainable projects such as reforestation, improved cook stoves and renewable energy production will be developed in areas exposed to climate risks, under the Fairtrade scheme.

Carbon that is removed or reduced as a result will be manifested into credits to be sold to companies. The Fairtrade aspect means that a minimum price has been placed on the credits that at least covers the costs of the projects.

Fairtrade International CEO Martin Hill said: “Increasingly, consumers and shareholders are demanding that businesses reduce their carbon footprint and compensate for unavoidable emissions.

“At the same time, small-scale farmers and workers are among the most affected by climate change even though they have contributed the least to causing it. Extreme weather conditions, increasing plant diseases such as coffee rust, and lower yields are just some of the problems they face.”

“The fact that major international companies like Deutsche Post DHL Group and Marks & Spencer have committed right from the outset shows there’s a real demand for Fairtrade Carbon Credits.”

Cash for credits

Companies will be eligible to purchase the credits only if they’ve already taken steps to minimise and eliminate their own carbon footprint. The credits are to be used to offset any unavoidable emissions that occur in the company, while farmers can use the money to fund and develop other sustainable projects.

Marks & Spencer will use the Fairtrade Carbon Credits to fund efficient cook stoves for M&S coffee producers in Ethiopia.

Carmel McQuaid, head of sustainable business at Marks & Spencer said: “This is a scheme that will deliver real benefits to businesses and communities. It will make a difference to M&S, helping us maintain our carbon neutral commitment, a difference to our suppliers as all the credits will be spent with M&S suppliers in Ethiopia and it will make a difference in communities by providing a safer, cleaner and healthier way to cook. That’s why we’re investing in Fairtrade Carbon Credits and we’re proud to be one of Fairtrade’s first partners.”

Other companies that have announced a partnership with Fairtrade in order to purchase credits include Dutch renewable energy company Eneco, Belgian coffee roasters Beyers, the Java Coffee Company and German honey producers Breitsamer.

Protect and supply

With climate change thrust into the spotlight during this month’s Paris climate conference, more and more businesses are taking steps to protect supply chains. The world's largest chocolate company Mondelez International has developed a reporting system which verifies the quantity of sustainably-grown and traded cocoa that the company uses.

Global coffee giant Starbucks has added £19m to its Global Farmer Fund which offers loans to farmers help them become more resilient to climate change.

In last few months the Carbon Trust launched the world's first certification standard for supply chain emissions, allowing businesses to measure, manage and reduce the carbon emissions of their supply chain.

Matt Mace


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