Impacts of climate change on tea production in Kenya, India, Sri Lanka and China

Our response to Christian Aid’s report: Reading the tea leaves – Climate change and the British cuppa

10 May 2021

The Reading the tea leaves – Climate change and the British cuppa report, published by Christian Aid, draws attention to one of the most critical issues facing the tea sector today. Our own programmes have shown that climate change is impacting on how and where tea can be grown, as referenced in the report

Tea production is already being disrupted by rising temperatures, droughts, frosts and unpredictable weather patterns. If urgent climate action isn’t taken, the tea ecosystem runs the risk of being irreparably damaged.

Though our programmes over the last decade, we have seen that the climate crisis is not only heavily affecting tea production, but most significantly, the impact is being felt by vulnerable tea farmers whose livelihoods depend on the crop.

Unstable climate events in places like Kenya mean that the 650,000 tea farmers and their wider communities, will pay the human cost. The UN FAO estimates that a 30% drop in production in Kenya, would result in 47% of households, among the tea community, falling below the poverty line.

Supported by our membership of 50 tea companies, ETP is embarking on a large, multi-stakeholder collaboration to help transition the Kenyan tea sector toward carbon neutrality.

To reduce carbon emissions along the supply chain we all have a role to play. Businesses need to innovate and invest in more sustainable practices, and Governments need to lead through ambitious carbon targets, by developing supporting policy and by making finance available.

Building the resilience of tea farmers is paramount and this can only be achieved through partnerships and commitment from all stakeholders.

More information about ETP’s climate work can be found here.