A report by the British charity, Christain Aid has revealed that by 2050, the optimal tea-growing conditions in Kenya—which produces almost half of the tea consumed in the UK, will reduce by 26%.
Kenya is the world’s biggest exporter of black tea but has now been struggling with unpredictable rainfall and rising temperatures, along with an increase in floods and droughts. These erratic weather patterns means that less tea will be cultivated throughout the year, and the quality and taste of the plant could be altered in the process.
For Britishers this will impact their favourite beverage, but in Kenya thousands of plantation workers are losing their livelihoods. Richard Koskei, a Kenyan tea farmer said:
We cannot predict seasons anymore, temperatures are rising, rainfall is more erratic, more often accompanied by unusual hailstones and longer droughts which was not the case in the past. If this continues then it will make growing tea much harder and life for us extremely difficult.
We see the impact of climate change and we also know how it’s caused. Carbon emissions need to be reduced urgently. Farmers like us are bearing the brunt of this crisis but we aren’t the ones that have caused it.
Kenya is not the only tea-producing country to face severe changes in weather. Christian Aid’s study found that three of the biggest tea-growing nations in the world—India, China, and Sri Lanka—were facing similar challenges.
Fiachra Moloney, general manager of PG Tips maker Unilever, hopes that governments will act fast on the issue in order to save local economies and thousands of lives that depend on tea plantations all over the world. He said:
The climate crisis affects people all over the world.
In East Africa, where so much of our tea comes from, climate change is putting the livelihoods of the people who grow tea for us at risk.
As Unilever, we call on governments to bring forward ambitious climate targets, policies and plans ahead of Cop26 that will help us all work together to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5C.