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Meat Tax Tipped To Be The Next Eco-Friendly Cash Cow

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

21 December 2017

New research suggests that the meat industry could be next on the hit list for policymakers considering new tax policies to tackle climate change and global warming.

Negative environmental and health impacts of high meat consumption put meat on the same pathway to taxation as goods such as sugar, carbon, and tobacco, says the report. It warns investors that the Paris Agreement will likely lead to a climate-related levy on food, with a shift to plant-based protein consumption likely necessary to achieve global-warming containment targets.

The private report for investors, produced by the investor network FAIRR, highlights research that shows that if animal proteins were cut completely from global diets more than USD1 trillion could be saved in health and environmental costs by 2050. For example, research by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has found that the livestock industry is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked processed meats as a cause of cancer.

The report examines the increasing use of "behavioral taxes" by governments on products such as sugar, carbon, and tobacco. It notes that countries including Denmark and Sweden have already debated a meat tax.

Jeremy Coller, CIO of Coller Capital and Founder of the FAIRR initiative, said: "Behavioral taxes are increasingly common. That's why we've seen 16 countries adopt a sugar tax in recent years. The damage the meat industry causes to our health and environment make it very exposed to similar levies, and it is increasingly probable we'll see meat taxes become a reality. Countries such as Sweden and Denmark have already looked at meat tax proposals. The continued subsidization of meat is the antithesis of what's needed as policymakers and countries gear up to deliver on Paris. Far-sighted investors should plan ahead for this day."

Coller added: "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."

Although the report has yet to be released publicly, FAIRR has said it intends to publish the report next year.

TAGS: environment | tax | Denmark | food | Sweden

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