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Future of the great British cuppa is under threat as climate change could slash tea production

The British cuppa is at grave risk from climate change, a report warns.

Kenya, which produces half the black tea drunk in Britain, faces more floods, droughts and rising temperatures, Christian Aid says.

Beyond ruining the lives of countless tea growers, the report says optimal conditions for Kenyan tea production will be slashed by 26 per cent by 2050. 

The traditional British cup of tea is at risk because of climate change, according to a report

Richard Koskei, 72, a tea farmer from Kenya’s Western Highlands, said: ‘We cannot predict seasons anymore… if this continues then it will make growing tea much harder.’

Other major tea-producing countries including India, Sri Lanka and China, the world's largest producer whose green tea is growing in popularity in the UK, also face rising temperatures and new weather extremes, the report said.

A changing climate could hit the taste of tea, as increasing amounts of rain produce inferior quality leaves, and reduce the compounds that make the brew beneficial to health, the report warned.

Big British tea brands and the Fairtrade Foundation have also raised concerns about the impact climate change is having on tea growers and the future of production.

The warning comes as the UK prepares to host the G7 meeting of major economies next month - where Boris Johnson has said climate, and finance for poor countries to cope with global warming, will be centre stage - and key UN Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow in November.

Dr Kat Kramer, Christian Aid's climate policy lead, said: "This year the UK Government has a key role in overseeing the global response to the climate emergency.

Big British tea brands and the Fairtrade Foundation have also raised concerns about the impact climate change is having on tea growers

"As host of both the G7 in June and the Cop26 climate summit in November, the UK can ensure that countries on the front line of this crisis can adapt and respond to the impacts of climate change.

"With countries starting to announce improved climate plans, there is a unique opportunity to accelerate cuts in emissions and boost the finance needed to help countries adapt to the changing climate."

Fiachra Moloney, of PG Tips maker Unilever, 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."

Under the international Paris Agreement, countries have committed to action to try to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels because beyond that level climate impacts will become increasingly severe.

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