• back
  • ITC BY SECTOR - CLIMATE CHANGE

  • Climate Change

    In response to consumer concerns about climate change, retailers are developing carbon labels that convey information on the carbon footprint of products. These can present non-tariff barriers to developing country exporters.

    Over a third of a typical developed country household’s carbon footprint is due to food consumption. The level of carbon “embodied” in food is under scrutiny from environmentalists, farm groups, consumers and retailers. Carbon labelling is an important market differentiation tool for retailers, and many suppliers are now required to measure emissions in production, processing and transport. Certain groups have identified the distance that a product travels from farm to the retailers ("food miles") as an important factor in determining embodied carbon levels.

    Measuring the carbon embodied in a product is complex and costly. Methodologies can also favour developed country producers. There is concern that both "food miles" and carbon labelling are ineffective as tools for climate change mitigation and present possible new non-tariff barriers to exporters in developing countries.

    ITC works with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and trade support institutions (TSIs) in overcoming these obstacles and improving access to international markets. The objective of ITC's programme on carbon is to assist SMEs and TSIs in developing countries to understand new requirements on carbon product standards and to work with them to mitigate carbon emissions in line with market requirements.

    Most recently, in December 2011, ITC in collaboration with COLEACP-PIP and FPEAK held a workshop on carbon and water management in horticultural exports from East Africa. More information on the workshop, including the programme and presentations can be found below in the training section.

     

    Information

    ITC offers information on carbon and climate change issues through publications, technical papers, articles and presentations.
     

    Technical papers

    • Cotton and Climate Change, Impacts and Options to mitigate and adapt, 2011, 32 pages. Available in English and French. This technical paper focuses on the interface between cotton, climate change and trade. It examines the impact of cotton production and consumption on climate change and the options and incentives for reducing emissions. It also discusses the impact of climate change on cotton production and the options for adaptation.
    • Climate Change and The Coffee Industry, 2010, 28 pages. Available in English, French and Spanish. This technical paper focuses on the effect of climate change on global coffee production, with particular reference to small coffee producers in developing and least developed countries.  It highlights the possible effects of climate change on quality, yield, pests and diseases, and irrigation; considers potential areas of intervention, and looks at short-term solutions and long-term strategies to make coffee producers better prepared.  It also discusses the issue of carbon credits, and provides examples of individual initiatives to reduce product carbon footprint; lists ongoing initiatives and information sources that may assist coffee growers.
    • Organic farming and climate change, 2008, 38 pages. This publication concludes that organic agriculture has much to offer in both mitigation of climate change through its emphasis on closed nutrient cycles and is a particularly resilient and productive system for adaptation strategies. It also raises the issue of whether organic agriculture should be eligible for carbon credits under voluntary carbon offsetting markets and the Clean Development Mechanism. Click here to download in pdf.
    • The Economic Impact of a Ban on Airfreighted Organic Products to the UK, 2007, 50 pages. The issue of climate change has grown in importance as seen through the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and issues such as “food miles”. ‘Food miles’ is a relatively recent issue which has arisen in the United Kingdom, Germany and other countries over food transportation. This publication provides a review of literature most relevant to the issue of food miles. In particular, this report concentrates upon issues around the proposed changes in the Soil Association’s (a leading UK organic certification body) criteria for airfreighted products. Moreover, this is particularly relevant to the import of fresh fruit and vegetables from developing countries.
    • Airfreight Transport of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables - A Review of the Environmental Impact and Policy Options, 2007, 54 pages. The issue of climate change has grown in importance as seen through the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and issues such as “food miles”. ‘Food miles’ is a relatively recent issue which has arisen in the United Kingdom, Germany and other countries over food transportation. This publication provides a review of literature most relevant to the issue of food miles. In particular, this report concentrates upon issues around the proposed changes in the Soil Association’s (a leading UK organic certification body) criteria for airfreighted products. Moreover, this is particularly relevant to the import of fresh fruit and vegetables from developing countries.

     

    Further reading on carbon labelling

     

    Further reading on the airfreight issue and food miles

     

    ITC’s experts have published extensively in the area of carbon and trade issues:

    Advisory Services

    ITC will map out the potential for mitigating (reducing) emissions from the agri-food sector in developing countries. This will be disseminated through normal channels and form part of a regional training event for SMEs and TSIs.
     The plan will identify technically feasible options along the supply chain including inter alia, investments in renewable energy, increased efficiency in production and processing, cold storage and transport.
    It will provide an estimate of the reduction that each intervention will provide to the supply chain. In addition the impact of interventions in the future, that are not currently feasible, will be described (e.g. movement of produce to Europe by ship rather than airplane). Roundtable meetings with industry stakeholders participating in the project will be organized to collect inputs on the mitigations plans.

    Training

    Training can be tailor-made for projects related to strengthening the capacity of SMEs and TSIs in developing countries to understand and respond to new requirements on carbon in the retail sector. The most recent training, on carbon and water management in horticultural exports from East Africa, was held from 8-9 December in Naivasha Kenya.
     

    Lack of information about carbon standards is a key constraint for SME exporters and TSIs on meeting new buyer requirements on carbon. There is a high demand for basic information on why buyers are making these requirements, the type of information needed and the ways to comply. Public agencies also require this information both to disseminate to exporters but also to frame policies that can support sectors in meeting these standards. Information is further needed to feed into the design of national climate change mitigation, adaptation policies and overall environmental industry strategies.

    Recent Workshop:

    In December 2011, ITC in collaboration with COLEACP-PIP and FPEAK held a multi-stakeholder workshop on carbon and water management in horticultural exports from East Africa. The workshop was held in Naivasha Kenya from 8-9 December. 

    The aim of the workshop was to provide Kenyan fresh produce exporters, local service providers, representatives  from the public sector and professional associations with an overview of the sustainability agenda in the agrifood sector, with a special emphasis on carbon and water management. The workshop gave an update on latest developments, and discussed some of the key issues facing Kenyan stakeholders. The results of the workshop will be used to identify local capacity building needs, and thus enable the preparation of more targeted assistance in 2012. The workshop was funded by the Government of Denmark and the European Union.

    Key information from the workshop, including the programme and presentations can be found below (presentations will be posted as they are made available):

    Networks

    ITC is a member of the Product Carbon Footprint Standard working group established in 2010 by ITC, the Pesticides Initiative Programme (PIP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
    The aim of this group is to share information on the impact of Product Carbon Footprinting (PCF) on trade and development. For more information, please contact us here.
     For further information on PIP, please go to http://tradestandards.org/en/Partner.15.aspx.
    For further information on UNIDO, please go to http://www.unido.org/.
    For further information on IIED, please go to http://www.iied.org/.

    Projects

    ITC has both contributed to the debate in this field through participation in international dialogues and taken concrete steps to prevent these trends becoming non-tariff barriers.
     
    • Global campaign on Airfreighted products, 2007. In 2007, a leading UK certifier of organic produce, the Soil Association, proposed that organic certification be withdrawn for airfreighted products, due to the high greenhouse gas emissions associated with airfreight.
      ITC published research showing that withdrawing organic certification for airfreighted products would have profound local economic impacts, affecting over 20,000 people connected to the organic sector in Africa. Land-locked countries depending on airfreight are particularly vulnerable.
      A further study carried out for ITC, reviews the environmental costs and benefits of importing food and finds that “food miles” is a simplistic and misleading indicator for environmental sustainability. In presenting these two studies, ITC in partnership with DFID, UNEP and UNCTAD argued that African exporters be allowed to continue using airfreight unhindered.
      In 2008, the Soil Association withdrew the proposed move. ITC congratulated the Soil Association for this decision.
    • Capacity building on carbon standards for export in agricultural products, 2010-2012. The objective of the project is to reduce the transaction costs of agricultural exporters to comply with carbon standards.
      An "Exporters Guide to Measuring Greenhouse Gas Emissions" will result from the project and a study of the carbon footprint of the fresh produce sector in eastern Africa will be undertaken. A mitigation plan for the sector will be developed together with the stakeholders involved.
  • Highlights

    06.08.2012

    ITC has recently partnered up with the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP), Rainforest Alliance and FLO-CERT to support smallholder tea farmers to both adapt to and mitigate the climate change impacts associated with their supply chains.

    14.06.2012

    WHO: The International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint agency of the UN and WTO, is hosting side-events within Rio+20 which focus on trade opportunities in the green economy. WHY:There are new and innovative opportunities in trade for sustainable development...

    Catadores in Brazil. Thumb.
    12.06.2012

    ITC’s Ethical Fashion Initiative invites 100 garbage collectors to its Good Business Models for a Sustainable Future event at the Corporate Sustainability Forum.

    01.04.2012

    When countries convene at this year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, both the venue, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and the overall objective of the conference, sustainable  development, will be the same as 20 years ago at the...

    01.04.2012

    As the world recovers from the economic downturn that followed the 2008 financial crisis, it has become clear that industrial development models created in the past are increasingly unsustainable, both economically and environmentally. Economic progress...

    30.03.2012

    In June 2011, TEP published a new technical paper on the impact of climate change on cotton production and options to mitigate and adapt. The paper is available online in English, French and Spanish.

    01.10.2011

    Through its Trade, Climate Change and Environment Programme (TCCEP), ITC is strengthening the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and trade support institutions (TSIs) in agri-environmental sectors in developing countries....

    issue 03 2011 Front cover thumbnail English
    01.10.2011

    Somalia is facing one of the worst food crises the world has seen in 60 years. The scale of the humanitarian disaster provides an ominous backdrop to this issue of International Trade Forum as we focus on food security, agriculture and trade development....

    01.10.2011

    As a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, agriculture is both a contributor to climate change and a potential casualty. Resolving the tension between meeting food security needs whilst also reducing emissions presents a major development challenge....

    16.12.2010

    Focusing on the value of exports rather than simply their volume is a key means for developing countries to survive and prosper in times of economic crisis, said Patricia R. Francis, ITC's Executive Director...