The first climate-neutral coffee, being produced by a co-operative in Costa Rica.
Photo: shutterstock/Wilcke


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Agriculture has a disproportionately high share of greenhouse gas emissions. Taking coffee as an example, a doctoral thesis written at the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart/Germany, shows that food can also be produced without an impact on the climate.

Slightly under a quarter of all gases that harm the environment develop in the agriculture and food sector. Here, it is not only the transportation of goods that plays a significant role but also the type of cultivation and processing. Consumers are largely unaware of what the environmental footprint of certain kinds of food is like.

So-called climate labels informing the consumer about whether a product is environmentally friendly are to remedy this. Agricultural scientist Athena Birkenberg of the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart/Germany took a look at the example of coffee in her doctoral thesis to find out the conditions that cultivation areas, processing companies and consumers have to meet in order for a label to be successful. The case study was conducted at the coffee co-operative of Coopedota in Costa Rica, which is now selling the world’s first climate-neutral coffee.

A country has to have a favourable political and economic framework in order to be able to successfully implement climate certification, Birkenberg explains.

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