Taxing Meat

Samantha Zeitz

Scientists have been saying the meat industry is responsible for a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions for years and now there are talks about taxing meat to combat global warming.

Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) is an investment initiative looking at ways to get farming on the ESG agenda. FAIRR experts say in the near future, countries could begin to introduce “sin taxes” on meat consumption to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from that sector. The taxing would be similar to the way sugar, alcohol, and tobacco is taxed. With livestock farming producing approximately 14.5 per cent of global emissions, this could become a reality within the next five to 10 years. The introduction of meat taxes has already been brought up in Denmark, Sweden and German, but so far no policies have been set.

Implementing a tax on meat consumption could help take a huge step towards achieving the goals of the Paris Climate agreement. In fact, researchers are saying that if livestock farming isn’t addressed, countries won’t be able to meet the agreement. UN officials are saying that with populations growing and becoming more wealthy global demand for livestock could double by 2050. If current trends continue, by that time the agriculture industry would be responsible for more than half of all emissions permitted under the Paris accord.

There are still some final pieces that need to be put into place before meat consumption can be taxed. Marco Springmann, a senior environmental sustainability and public health researcher at Oxford University told PIX 11 that the process has to be clearly explained to the public. They must also consider poorer families who already struggle to afford food.

Other attempts to reduce livestock consumption are being put into place as well. Another tactic is to get people to follow laid out nutrition standards. Netherland researchers took a look at how following nutrition guidelines could affect the emissions from each individual country. Their study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences focused on the average diets of 37 countries with representation of 64 per cent of the world’s population. Their findings showed that wealthier countries could see up to a 25 per cent decrease in emissions if they were to follow government-recommended diets.