If you like to eat meat, you’ll have to be prepared to dig a little deeper into your pockets if global warming alarmists get their way. That’s because meat could soon be taxed under the guise of stopping global warming.
Investors believe that governments are set to start putting a tax on meat production in their quest to meet the emissions targets that were set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. They believe meat could go the way of tobacco, sugar and carbon and find itself on the receiving end of taxes in jurisdictions across the planet.
According to a report from the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return Initiative (FAIRR), the global economy could find itself dealing with $1.6 trillion in environmental and health costs by the year 2050 thanks to a projected global rise in meat consumption of 73 percent. The Food & Agriculture Organization says that the greenhouse gas emissions that come from livestock make up around 14.5 percent of the planet’s total amount of emissions.
In response, investors are pushing firms to diversify into plant proteins. FAIRR, which counts $2.3 trillion under its management in a sustainable protein engagement plan, is aiming to ask more than a dozen top food multinationals to diversify their protein sources.
While the argument that such a move could stop global warming is pretty flawed, experts point out there are other issues with meat that make it problematic. For example, processed meat consumption has been linked to cancer. Many people already consume far too much meat, which has a significant effect on health and also incurs health care costs. This is not unlike sugar, which is already taxed in many places on account of its unhealthy nature.
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Livestock, meanwhile, is associated with problems like antibiotic resistance and water pollution.
How much could meat be taxed?
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of consensus on an appropriate amount of meat tax. Last year, a global analysis was carried out of meat taxes, and it found that a tax of 40 percent on beef and 8.5 percent on chicken could help to save half a million lives every year and reduce climate-warming emissions. Swedish analyst Sarah Sall, meanwhile, suggests a 40 percent tax on chicken and a tax of 28 percent on beef, according to The Guardian.
Proposals have already been put forth in Denmark suggesting a tax of $2.70 on each kilogram of meat, and similar meat tax proposals have been seen in Sweden. Lawmakers in Germany and China have also talked about livestock taxes, although the concept is being met with a lot of resistance. The International Resource Panel of the UN called for meat to be taxed last year as a way of discouraging emerging economies from adopting unhealthy American diets.
The University of Oxford’s Marco Springmann said: “Current levels of meat consumption are not healthy or sustainable. The costs associated with each of those impacts could approach the trillions in the future. Taxing meat could be a first and important step.”
Many investors are turning to plant-based alternatives to meat, like the meat-free Impossible burger that has attracted some big-name backing.