The Co-op has committed to spending more than 0.7 per cent of its pre-tax profit on international aid and has joined forces with Fairtrade Africa and the Fairtrade Foundation to support producers combating the effects of climate change.
The convenience retailer made the announcement as it launched its latest report, 'Climate Justice for People and Planet', which calls for increased business accountability to protect and invest in the resilience and transition of global supply chains in the face of the climate crisis.
The Co-op said the expansion of its partnership with Fairtrade Africa will ensure producers in its supply chain, who are already seeing the first-hand impact of climate change, are supported now and into the future.
The announcement follows the news of the government’s decision to not return to its commitment of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income – currently reduced to 0.5 per cent, a cut of almost £4bn – for international aid and development. Co-op lobbied 650 MPs urging them to vote against the government’s motion by sharing its new report to show how the reduced funding will impact international communities.
The retailer's report states that it’s vital that collective progress is made during discussion at COP-26 on the $100bn commitment to investment in climate resilience and adaptation. In 2009, during the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, the world’s richest countries – including the UK – agreed to spend $100bn a year on climate change finance by 2020. Despite some progress, and this target being a key goal of The Paris Agreement, the target is not being met.
Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food CEO, said: “As we have seen throughout the pandemic, we are reliant on the global food system for the food we enjoy here in the UK. However, the reality is that for many of our suppliers the climate crisis is as immediate and pressing as the impact of Covid-19. It’s crucial that we ensure producers in low-income countries receive adequate support to cover the cost of adapting to climate change and transitioning to low-carbon production.”
The Co-op explained that its new long-term commitment and investment with Fairtrade Africa will help to drive forward Fairtrade’s climate strategy and generate further action on the ground, benefitting producers at the front line of the climate crisis. The new approach will drive a deeper impact with communities by pooling Co-op’s current investment from individual projects into a strategic programme directed by producers themselves.
Chris Oluoch, programmes director at Fairtrade Africa, said: “Co-op is standing side by side with Fairtrade producers, ensuring a farmer-centric approach to adapting and mitigating the very worst effects of climate change and channelling crucial funding to the areas of greatest need in a flexible and responsive manner.”
The new commitment forms part of Co-op’s 10-point climate change action plan, which it unveiled in May 2021. The plan sets out a blueprint for the Co-op to achieve net-zero for its direct and indirect carbon emissions by 2040, with one of the action points to help suppliers on the front line of the climate crisis.