Taylors of Harrogate tea business wins UN award for action on climate change

Taylors of Harrogate became a carbon-neutral company last year

A Yorkshire tea and coffee business has won a UN award for its action on climate change.

Taylors of Harrogate, which became a carbon-neutral business last year, accounts for all its emissions from cultivating, processing and shipping its tea and coffee.

On Tuesday, the English company was named as one of 11 winners of the UN Global Climate Action Awards and its work will go on display during the coming Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

"Taylors of Harrogate has embedded its carbon ambition into its business strategy from the start," the UN said.

The company is an independent business founded in 1886 and owns the popular Yorkshire Tea brand. It has installed solar panels at its factories that generate almost 200,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

It has sent zero waste to landfill since 2017, increased the efficiency of its lorries and imported all its tea and coffee through the north-east coast of England instead of the south coast, saving road journeys of 218,870 kilometres and 205.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 alone.

The awards advisory panel praised the company's "unique programme with its long-term suppliers" that tackled "the interlinked challenges of climate change, smallholder livelihoods and ensuring a continuous supply of quality tea and coffee".

"The company’s carbon neutral product certification," it added, "is from ‘field to supermarket shelf’, accounting for all the emissions from cultivating, processing and shipping its tea and coffee as well as blending, roasting and packing it in its factory then transporting it to retailers all around the world."

The company has also been working with the International Small Group Tree Planting Programme in four Kenyan communities since 2015. This scheme works with farmers in rural communities to share knowledge on conservation farming and reforestation.

About 7,500 tea farmers are included in the project across four factories.

“Everyone has a role to play when it comes to confronting the climate crisis,” said Gabrielle Giner, chairwoman of the advisory panel.

“The recipients of the UN Global Climate Action Awards are stepping up with the kind of bold and courageous leadership we need to see much more of to avoid the ever-worsening impacts of climate change.”

The group chose 11 projects that fall within three focus categories: climate neutral now; financing for climate friendly investment; and climate leaders.

“This past year, we have seen deadly wildfires and floods in many parts of the world,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa.

“The report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in August rang the alarm bells, showing that the world is warming faster than scientists previously thought.

"And the new synthesis report of national climate action plans released recently confirmed that, unfortunately, we are moving in the wrong direction.

"We urgently require solutions and actions from everyone: public and private sectors; civil society; academia; investors; cities and regions.

"The winners of the 2021 UN Global Climate Action Awards provide tangible proof that solutions to tackle the climate crisis exist and that they can be replicated and quickly scaled up. This is what inspiring leadership looks like.”

The winners include the world’s first renewable island community in Denmark, and the leading debt-financing provider for distributed solar energy in Africa. Another winner was a London fashion house focused on environmentally, ethically and socially conscious style.

Other winners were a UK crowdfunding platform enabling people to support home solar power in sub-Saharan Africa, and Mexico’s first metropolitan-level climate action plan.

The annual award programme, run since 2011, recognises the world’s most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of action to tackle climate change.

Updated: October 6th 2021, 12:14 PM