Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Taxes on Meat Could Join Carbon, Sugar and Tobacco to Help Curb Emissions

Food
Shutterstock

By Jessica Corbett

"Driven by a global consensus around meat's negative contributions to climate change and global health epidemics such as obesity, cancer and antibiotic resistance," a new report by a British investor network concludes that a meat tax should be considered "inevitable" for any government serious about addressing the climate crisis and other health concerns that stem from factory farms and livestock production.


For more than a decade, the United Nations and environmentalists have warned that "livestock is a major threat" to the environment, due to land and water degradation as well as the substantial amount of greenhouse gas emissions that farm animals generate.

As of 2013, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization found that agriculture, including livestock, accounted for nearly 15 percent of anthropogenic emissions. The majority of emissions came from cattle raised for beef and milk.

A report from Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR)—which will be released in full next month—advises that meat is "on the same pathway to taxation as goods such as sugar, carbon and tobacco," which has led more than 180 countries to tax tobacco, 60 jurisdictions to tax carbon and at least 25 to tax sugar.

FAIRR researchers point to a 2015 move by the World Health Organization to classify processed meat as carcinogenic and red meat as a probable carcinogen, reflecting "similar reports on the harmful effects of tobacco and sugar." They also acknowledge that since the early 1990s, global meat consumption has grown by more than 500 percent.

In response to skyrocketing rates of meat consumption, last year a team at Oxford University conducted the first-ever global analysis of meat taxes, which concluded—as the lead researcher put it—"It is clear that if we don't do something about the emissions from our food system, we have no chance of limiting climate change."

In light of the worldwide surge in consumption and the research illustrating its consequences, as governments look for ways to reduce emissions to meet goals established by the Paris climate accord,"it is increasingly probable we'll see meat taxes become a reality," said FAIRR founder Jeremy Coller.

"Countries such as Sweden and Denmark have already looked at meat tax proposals," Coller noted. "If policymakers are to cover the true cost of livestock epidemics like avian flu and human epidemics like obesity, diabetes and cancer, while also tackling the twin challenges of climate change and antibiotic resistance, then a shift from subsidization to taxation of the meat industry looks inevitable."

"Current levels of meat consumption are not healthy or sustainable," said Marco Springmann, a senior researcher on environmental sustainability and public health at Oxford University. "They lead to high emissions of greenhouse gases that threaten to jeopardize existing climate commitments, as well as to large numbers of avoidable deaths from chronic diseases."

"Taxing meat for environmental or health purposes could be a first and important step in addressing these twin challenges," Springmann added, "and it would send a strong signal that dietary change toward more healthy and sustainable plant-based diets is urgently needed to preserve both our health and the environment."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An elephant at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. In Defense of Animals

By Marilyn Kroplick

The term "zoonotic disease" wasn't a hot topic of conversation before the novel coronavirus started spreading across the globe and upending lives. Now, people are discovering how devastating viruses that transfer from animals to humans can be. But the threat can go both ways — animals can also get sick from humans. There is no better time to reconsider the repercussions of keeping animals captive at zoos, for the sake of everyone's health.

Read More Show Less
Isiais now approaches the Carolinas, and is expected to strengthen into a hurricane again before reaching them Monday night. NOAA

Florida was spared the worst of Isaias, the earliest "I" storm on record of the Atlantic hurricane season and the second hurricane of the 2020 season.

Read More Show Less
A campaign targeting SUV advertising is a project between the New Weather Institute and climate charity Possible. New Weather Institute

To meet its climate targets, the UK should ban advertisements for gas-guzzling SUVs, according to a report from a British think tank that wants to make SUVs the new smoking, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less

A company from Ghana is making bikes out of bamboo.

By Kate Whiting

Bernice Dapaah calls bamboo "a miracle plant," because it grows so fast and absorbs carbon. But it can also work wonders for children's education and women's employment – as she's discovered.

Read More Show Less
Scientists say it will take a massive amount of collective action to reverse deforestation and save society from collapse. Big Cheese Photo / Getty Images Plus

Deforestation coupled with the rampant destruction of natural resources will soon have devastating effects on the future of society as we know it, according to two theoretical physicists who study complex systems and have concluded that greed has put us on a path to irreversible collapse within the next two to four decades, as VICE reported.

Read More Show Less
Researchers have turned to hydrophones, instruments that use underwater microphones to gather data beyond the reach of any camera or satellite. Pxfuel

By Kristen Pope

Melting and crumbling glaciers are largely responsible for rising sea levels, so learning more about how glaciers shrink is vital to those who hope to save coastal cities and preserve wildlife.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The fact is, cats play different predatory roles in different natural and humanized landscapes. PIXNIO / CCO

By William S. Lynn, Arian Wallach and Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila

A number of conservationists claim cats are a zombie apocalypse for biodiversity that need to be removed from the outdoors by "any means necessary" – coded language for shooting, trapping and poisoning. Various media outlets have portrayed cats as murderous superpredators. Australia has even declared an official "war" against cats.

Read More Show Less