United Nations climate change seeks collaboration with wine industry

With unpredictable weather already impacting the global wine business, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat explains how it can support the industry

With revenues in the region of $200 billion a year, the wine industry is in robust shape right now. But Vinexpo Bordeaux’s first ever climate change symposium underlined just how damaging changes in weather patterns might be to an industry that employees 325,000 worldwide.

At the end of the symposium, Vinexpo Daily spoke to Judith Adrien, communications officer at the UN Climate Change secretariat, about the risks to the wine industry, what it should be doing and how the UNFCCC can help.

Can you tell us firstly about the role of UNFCCC?

UNFCCC is a call to action based on the fact that governments alone cannot solve the climate crisis. One part of UNFCCC’s role is to help industries gather data about how they are likely to be affected by climate change. They can then build awareness and influence governments, explaining to them what actions need to be taken to correct the problem.

Why have you identified wine as an area of interest?

We were alerted to the issues in the sector by an association of environmental journalists in France which provided tangible evidence of how future Bordeaux wines would not taste like Bordeaux – which has obvious implications for their business.

I think UN Climate Change executive director, Patricia Espinosa, says it best when she declared, “wine producers witness the impact on the ground, so they can help us build a more sustainable, resilient, prosperous world.”

How well do you think the wine sector is addressing the issue?

There are clearly some interesting initiatives aimed at adaptation, for example relocating vineyards to higher altitudes or developing new grape varieties. But these solutions aren’t open to everyone and, in the end, can only be part of the answer.

What are the key steps the wine industry needs to take?

As a whole, the industry needs to think about mitigation strategies, and to do that they need a road map. UNFCCC can help with that. We have already collaborated with the sports industry in a similar way. Consumers, governments, the supply chain could really respond to the idea of this industry being under threat.

We can also help them contact other industries that have already taken initiatives, to ask how much it cost to implement.

Is there a specific message for Vinexpo and its delegates?

Yes! We have an initiative called Climate Neutral Now, which is designed to help all levels of society take action now. We can help events like Vinexpo go carbon neutral, so that they are seen by visitors to be ‘walking the talk’.

For delegates, they might be interested to know we have a Global Climate Action Awards programme that even the smallest winery can enter. A Californian vineyard won an award in 2017 and we have a Chilean entry this year.

Photo: Judith Adrien, Communications Officer at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat