• According to a report by Christian Aid, climate change is affecting tea production in Kenya, which is the biggest global supplier of black tea.
  • This could threaten the livelihoods of millions of workers.
  • Even though Africans generate just 4% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, they suffer the worst impacts of global warming, such as drought.
  • As the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow approach, campaigners are calling for measures to reduce the impact of global warming on developing countries.

Climate change is set to ravage tea production in Kenya, the biggest global supplier of black tea, threatening the livelihoods of millions of plantation workers, a report by British charity Christian Aid warned on Monday.

The report looked at how shifting temperatures and rainfall patterns in tea-growing regions in Kenya, India, Sri Lanka and China could affect the quality and yield of the world's most popular beverage.

Tea is one of Kenya's top foreign currency earners, along with tourism and remittances, employing about three million people.

But the East African country - which produces almost half the tea consumed in Britain - is likely to see the areas with optimal and medium tea-growing conditions shrink by about 25% and 40% respectively by 2050, the report said.

Climatic changes will also make it increasingly difficult for tea growers to move into new, previously uncultivated regions, it said, adding that the decline in output was already being felt on the ground.

"The conditions here used to be good and we had a great tea harvest. When the climate changed, the production of tea in my farm dropped," said Richard Koskei, 72, a tea farmer from Kericho in Kenya's western highlands.

"We have nothing else to rely on here. People in my community will consider running away from tea farming, with jobs lost, and consumers of tea might see the price rise."

According to a U.N. survey of 700 growers in all seven of Kenya's tea regions, farmers observed changes in rainfall patterns, distribution, and reduced yields tied to climate change.

More than 40% of respondents said they had noticed changes in rainy and dry seasons, which led to shifts in the planting season, while 35% cited drought.

Kenya is highly vulnerable to climate change, with projections suggesting its average annual temperature will rise by up to 2.5 degrees Celsius between 2000 and 2050, said Christian Aid's report.

Rainfall will become more intense and less predictable. Even the slightest increase in droughts will present major challenges for food security and water availability, especially in Kenya's arid and semi-arid area in the north and east, it added.

"Africans make up 17% of the world's population but we generate just 4% of the greenhouse gas emissions that have caused the climate crisis," said Karimi Kinoti, head of Christian Aid's Africa Division, in a statement.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

Contact us to get involved.

"And yet it is we who are suffering the brunt of the impacts of climate change. Our tea industry is vital to our economy ... and now it is under threat from climate change."

Ahead of crucial U.N. climate talks in Glasgow in November, campaigners are calling for countries to cut carbon emissions, cancel the debts of developing countries such as Kenya, and mobilise climate finance to help countries adapt.

"The whole world will be watching, especially Kenyan tea farmers and other people on the front lines of the climate crisis," said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a Nairobi-based climate and energy think-tank.