Environmental terms like climate change and global warming have become part and parcel of everyday debates and discussions. However, most of us don’t think about the impact it could have on the things we take for granted, like a morning cup of coffee. Woolworths, recently named International Responsible Retailer of the Year for the second time in three years, is hoping to change that with an expedition to Kilimanjaro kicking off on 11 January 2011. Joining the Woolworths expedition is Climatologist and “50:50” presenter Simon Gear. “A combination of climate change and deforestation is stealing the Kili ice cap from Africa,” says Gear. “Many people don’t realise how quickly the ice cap is disappearing. An Ohio State University study predicts that the ice on top of Kilimanjaro could be gone sometime between 2015 and 2020. And that’s not the only climate change effect. The warmer, dryer climate at the summit has led to an increase in forest fires on the slopes, resulting in a downward shift of the upper forest line. Combine that with the drying resulting from the clearing of the lower slopes and there is a real chance that the processes on the mountain have already become fundamentally altered, with devastating effects for the farmers lower down and the unique ecosystems of this African icon.” “Climate change is one of the four pillars of our Good Business Journey,” explains Woolworths Good Business Journey manager and expedition member, Justin Smith. “What people need to realise is that global warming is already resulting in increasing average air and ocean temperatures, as well as widespread melting of snow and ice, world wide. In Africa, Kilimanjaro’s melting ice cap is one of the most visible indicators of global warming.” The aim of the expedition, which will be led and filmed by respected expedition guide Sean Wisedale, is to raise awareness of climate change and the effect it’s having on coffee farmers in Tanzania – the very farmers who grow the organic coffee Woolworths sells in its cafés around the country (and which will soon be launched as an in-store range as well). Woolworths and its coffee supplier, Tribeca, have been playing a mentoring role in helping these farmers grow their businesses and have recently also played a key role in helping the Kilimanjaro Native Co operative Union (KNCU)– the co-op which supplies Woolworths with organic green coffee beans – set up a café in Moshi town, the gateway to Kilimanjaro. Smith explains, “Kilimanjaro’s melting ice cap is directly threatening Tanzania’s coffee farmers, who are reliant on the glacier melt for water. These organic coffee farmers live and grow their coffee under the shady forest canopies on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, which means that as the ice disappears there is less water to grow their crops.” South African Champion Barista, Ishan Natalie, who is taking time out from training new baristas for Woolies cafés is also embarking on the adventure. On route to the summit via the difficult Umbwe route, the group will use water from the melting glacier to make a symbolic ice coffee drink. The drink – minus the glacier water – will be launched at Woolies cafès on 18 January. Jenna van Schoor, the winner of the Woolworths Kilimanjaro customer competition is also part of the 15 strong team. Jenna won the competition by motivating her ‘green’ lifestyle and love for coffee. In an effort to off-set the carbon emissions accumulated on this trip, the Woolworths Kilimanjaro team have worked out their Carbon Footprints and will be planting trees as part of a community project once the expedition is completed. Woolworths customers can follow the expedition on the plasma screens at their local Woolworths store or on the Woolworths Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WoolworthsSA.