4C Certification · Carbon Footprint

Address the Carbon Footprint of Coffee with 4C

4C Carbon Footprint Add-On

Measuring and reducing GHG emissions in coffee production and supply chains

What is the carbon footprint of a green coffee bean? How can the carbon footprint be reduced to produce climate friendly coffee? What are the requirements for carbon neutral green coffee? With increasing public awareness of the impact of global climate change, these are questions that many in the coffee sector are facing. On a global level, agriculture contributes with a significant share to the total GHG emissions: Coffee production is no exception. This calls for the urgent need to address these issues with comprehensive actions.

The Benefits: Sustainable coffee and transparent information

With the newly developed “4C Carbon Footprint Add-On” 4C provides a comprehensive solution for its system users to respond to the increasing consumer demand for sustainably sourced coffee and transparent and reliable information about its carbon footprint.

The 4C Carbon Footprint Add-On defines the methodology to be applied and provides guidance to 4C Units, as well as intermediary and final buyers on measures to ascertain, verify and reduce GHG emissions in coffee supply chains, from agricultural production to coffee roasting. For the development of the 4C Carbon Footprint Add-On, recognized methodologies, standards and initiatives were researched and considered, such as ISO 14067:2018, GHG Protocol Product Standard, PAS 2050:2011 and several IPCC guidelines. It is aligned with the guide from the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) and the Paris Agreement target to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The Four Levels of Implementation

From GHG emissions calculation to climate friendly or climate neutral coffee

The methodology is adopted in four basic levels of implementation, making it possible to implement the 4C Carbon Footprint Add-On gradually and in different arrangements of the coffee value chain.

Level 1: GHG emissions calculation at the 4C Unit level

By taking this initial step you have already started the journey. This first level already enables certified 4C units to sell green coffee with a specified carbon footprint to the market.

Carbon Footprint Add-On Levels of Implementation

Level 2:

This next level of implementation goes beyond measuring GHG emissions in coffee cultivation and also takes the supply chain into account. Green coffee with a carbon footprint covering the entire upstream emissions can be sold to final buyers.

Level 3:

When this third level of implementation is reached, the reduction of the GHG emissions becomes the focus of attention. The certified units implement measures to reduce GHG emissions in cultivation, processing and transport according to the Improvement Plan they have developed. After competing this stage, the certified units can sell the coffee as 4C Climate Friendly Coffee.

Level 4:

This final level encompasses all the steps up to Level 3 and goes one step further by including carbon compensation. This means that all remaining emissions, which cannot be eliminated by the reduction measures, are offset through contributing to qualified carbon projects. This means, that the certified units who have completed Level 4, can sell the coffee as 4C Climate Neutral Coffee.

Applying for the 4C Carbon Footprint Add-On

When applying for the 4C Carbon Footprint Add-On, 4C system users shall comply with the core 4C procedures and requirements for certification. The baseline GHG calculation should be made available before applying for the Add-On certification.

Main Conditions

  • Prerequisites for 4C core certification fulfilled
  • GHG emissions calculated following standards and methodologies approved by 4C

All operations and facilities responsible for coffee production and post-harvest processing covered by a 4C certificate are eligible for the application of the Add-On. The Add-On can be applied globally, independent of the type of coffee produced and the cultivation practices.

Only Certification Bodies (CBs) cooperating with 4C are approved to conduct the Carbon Footprint Add-On audits. A list of 4C-approved CBs can be found here. Once all requirements for 4C Climate Friendly (or Neutral) Coffee are successfully fulfilled, the existing 4C core certificate receives an amendment confirming the successful application of the Add-On. 4C system users have the right to use of  the respective logos and claims, according to 4C logo use policy, to communicate their efforts to reduce GHG emissions.

Contact us

Join us in the journey to a more carbon friendly future!  Together we can reduce GHG emissions in coffee production and supply chains and combat climate chance. To start your Climate Friendly Coffee journey, please contact us via info@4c-servies.org.

4C Stakeholder Committee

Stakeholder involvement has always been a key building block of the 4C system. The development of this Add-On included a variety of dialogues and pilot projects related to the measurement of carbon emissions in several coffee producing countries. To further benefit from this participatory process, 4C will set up a Stakeholder Committee to allow 4C system users to share their experiences and expertise with related interest groups and continue supporting the development of this important tool for coffee value chains.

4C will host regular Stakeholder Dialogue Meetings in which we will discuss relevant topics in relation to climate change, such as innovative technologies and newest scientific findings, amongst the members of the stakeholder committee and with regular guests from Academia and NGOs. The overall objective of the regular stakeholder meetings is an exchange of knowledge and experience to further develop the 4C Add-On and its application on the ground.

The participation in the stakeholder committee is open for all 4C system users: Managing Entities of 4C Units, Certification Bodies, Intermediary Buyers and Final Buyers. The Kick-Off event to launch the 4C Stakeholder Committee will be take place after the closure of the public consultation. The date will be posted shortly.

If you are interested in joining the 4C GHG Stakeholder Committee, please register here:

Stakeholder Committee Registration

Stakeholder Committee Registration