Germany: 'Meat Tax' on the Table to Protect the Climate
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German politicians from the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens on Wednesday proposed raising the value added tax (VAT) on meat to the standard rate of 19%. Currently, meat is taxed at a reduced rate of 7%.
"I am in favor of abolishing the VAT reduction for meat and earmarking it for more animal welfare," said Friedrich Ostendorf, agricultural policy spokesperson for the Greens.
His SPD counterpart Rainer Spieging added that: "a meat tax, such as increasing the VAT to 19%, could be a way forward."
The lawmakers proposed using the additional funds raised by the tax increase to support animal welfare in the country at a time when the meat industry is coming under increased scrutiny for how it treats livestock.
The agriculture spokesperson from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) was open to the plans. Under one condition:
"Such a tax can be a constructive proposal," said Albert Stegemann. "However, the additional tax revenue should be used to support livestock farmers to help them restructure."
Meat consumption has come under increased scrutiny over the past decade, with meatless diets, such as vegetarianism and veganism, gaining traction across the globe.
Scientists have labeled the meat industry one of the highest emitters of CO2, a key contributor to climate change. They have called for bold measures to decrease meat consumption as part of a holistic approach to combating climate change.
Opposition parties, including the Left Party and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), have rejected the proposed measures, according to German media.
Reposted with permission from our media associate DW.
California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.