Climate change effects on coffee production could be less negative than previously assumed

Published on
September 25, 2017

Previous studies projected that global warming and shifts in rainfall may lead to 19-50% declines in coffee production in major producing countries such as Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil.

These studies however did not consider (i) the potential compensatory effect of elevated CO2 (the so-called CO2 fertilization) and (ii) the ability of plants to acclimate to climate change. In a recent study published in the journal Climate Change, scientists from CSA and the University of Sao Paolo (first authored by joint MSc student Fabian Verhage) used a physiology-based crop growth model and showed that for the largest coffee producer Brazil, CO2 fertilization can mitigate negative effects of climate change. This is provided that there is sufficient irrigation. This study highlights the need for more physiology-based research on tree responses to climate change, especially on the supposed CO2 fertilization effect.