Meat and Dairy Must Be Taxed to Fight Climate Change

Researchers find that a tax of 40-percent on meat and 20-percent on dairy is needed to offset the carbon footprint of the animal agriculture industry.


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In the first global comprehensive study of its kind, researchers at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food found that a global average tax of 40-percent on meat and 20-percent on dairy is necessary to offset the heavy carbon footprint of the animal agriculture industry. On the heels of The Paris Agreement—where members of the United Nations committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to keep the planet from warming by two degrees celsius by 2020—various environmental groups have proposed that governments impose a tax on meat and dairy as a plan to achieve the goals set forth therein. “It is clear that if we don’t do something about the emissions from our food system,” the lead researcher of the study Marco Springmann said, “we have no chance of limiting climate change below 2C. But if you’d have to pay 40-percent more for your steak, you might choose to have it once a week instead of twice.” Springmann suggests that food policies follow an optimum tax plan—where healthier foods such as fruit and vegetables would be subsidized to make them more affordable to populations priced-out of animal consumption by the proposed tax—which he determined would reduce emissions by 1 billion tons per year.

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