Comment: Taxing meat

Diet and Climate Change (Chatham House)A prominent British think-tank has suggested in a new report that there should be a tax on meat aimed at curbing soaring global demand for the basic food group.

Timed to appear ahead of the climate negotiations in Paris, the 76 page comprehensive Diet and Climate Change report from Chatham House, suggests that appetite for meat is a major driver of climate change and that reducing global meat consumption will be critical to keeping global warming below the ‘danger level ‘ of two degrees Celsius. The authors – research associate Laura Wellesley, senior research fellow Antony Froggatt and University of Glasgow academic Catherine Happer – suggest that public awareness of the issue is low and meat remains off the policy agenda. Government experts need to take the lead in shifting attitudes and behaviors, they say.

“Interventions to change the relative prices on foods are likely to be amongst the most effective in changing consumption patterns,” they argue. “Opportunities include removal of direct or indirect subsidies to the livestock sector, subsidisation of plant-based alternatives, or interventions to increase the price of meat and other unsustainable products,such as a carbon tax.”

Taxing a basic food group is a bold step and will have many spluttering in their morning lattes, but the authors suggest that, in these unusual times, the idea is far less unpalateable to consumers than it might appear.

The sooner the excellent New Zealand work on mitigating methane emissions from farmed livestock comes to fruition, the better.

Read the Diet and Climate Change Executive Summary …

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