The Politics of Poverty

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New business partnership forms

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A diverse group of companies joins together to promote climate resilience

What do coffee-maven Starbucks and the energy utility Entergy have in common? Or with jeans-maker Levi’s for that matter?

All of them are facing the increasing consequences of a changing climate on their bottom lines–and recognize the same is true in vulnerable communities around the world.

In the case of Starbucks, climate impacts are harming coffee supply chains and coffee-growing communities in developing countries. In Entergy’s case, the company faces the effects of severe weather events and rising temperatures on energy infrastructure and their customers in the US Gulf Coast region. Levi’s is feeling impacts of water stress on cotton production in vulnerable growing regions around the world.

Now these companies and others are turning deep concern into action. Today, Entergy and Starbucks, together with Levi Strauss & Company, Calvert Investments, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Swiss Re, announced a new partnership to tackle these growing climate challenges.

PREP

This partnership—PREP, or the Partnership for Resilience and Environmental Preparedness—was formed because of a growing recognition among companies that they face shared risks with communities on the front lines of climate change. The PREP partnership will promote responsible business practices and strong policies and programs that help businesses and vulnerable communities prepare for and respond to climate change.

Many of the companies engaged in PREP have already begun to invest in climate resilience solutions in partnership with communities. Such efforts represent an investment in economic stability for some and access to emerging markets for others. For example:

• Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has invested in the Coffee Under Pressure program (CUP) in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua. CUP supports adaptation to climate change in coffee growing communities in Mesoamerica and generates detailed information on the likely impacts of climate change on the productivity and quality of coffee and other crops in the mid-to-long-term.

• Swiss Re, in partnership with Oxfam America and other organizations, has pioneered an innovative risk management approach with small-scale farmers in Ethiopia. The product enables farmers participating in a government social safety net scheme to pay for weather risk insurance premiums by contributing their own labor to community projects that reduce risk, including irrigation, soil improvement, and composting. In the event of a seasonal drought, insurance payouts triggered automatically by low rainfall enable farmers to afford the seeds and inputs necessary to plant in the following season, without having to sell off productive assets to survive.

Some of the companies in PREP (and a few outside of PREP), including Calvert Investments, Entergy, Green Mountain coffee Roasters, Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Royal Engineers, Seventh Generation, and Starbucks, are also calling on policymakers to support long-term funding for critical programs that build resilience to extreme weather events and climate shocks in the US and internationally. As they note in a letter delivered to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka, “Super Committee”): It would be a disinvestment in US business to cut funding for programs that build resilience in vulnerable communities in the US and abroad to cope with extreme disasters…programs that build climate resilience domestically and internationally are important to business sustainability, as well as to the US economy and jobs.

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