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We need to start preparing ourselves for an 'inevitable' meat tax

It may arrive sooner than we think

We need to start preparing ourselves for an 'inevitable' meat tax
11 December 2017

Meat could ultimately be subject to similar taxation measures to alcohol and cigarettes, if the UK follows the findings of some newly-released analysis.

It follows the news that the British public consumed an estimated 500 million kg of chicken in 2016, seeing it take its place as the country’s new ‘favourite’ meat.

A new study from Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (Fairr) argues meat and related products ought to be in line for a similar ‘sin tax’ due to their impact on climate change.

Cigarettes are currently taxed at 16.5% of the RRP, while wine, beer, cider and spirits are taxed at varying rates depending on the type and strength of alcoholic drink.

More recently, the UK also moved ahead with plans to enforce a sugar tax, predominantly targeting fizzy drinks, for health reasons which would also factor in to any meat legislation.

Chicken: the new #1

While no bill has been introduced as yet, Fairr’s research considers such an approach ‘inevitable’ at some stage.

“As implementation of the Paris climate agreement progresses we’re highly likely to see government action to reduce the environmental impact of the global livestock sector,” said Maria Lentini, director of the body.

“On the current pathway we may well see some form of meat tax emerge within 5-10 years.”

The Guardian notes that the global livestock industry is responsible for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, while pointing to earlier analysis which suggested the optimum taxation level to both save lives and cut emissions would be 40% on beef, 20% on dairy products, 15% on lamb and 8.5% on chicken.

The proposed beef tax could cut consumption by as much as 13%, according to the same research.

A tax of 40% is proposed for beef

While the UK is yet to discuss such measures seriously in Parliament, other countries have already looked in depth at the possibility of bringing in meat taxes.

Germany, Denmark and Sweden have already raised the subject at a parliamentary level, while there have also been calls in China to significantly reduce meat consumption.

“The Danish way of life is far from climate-sustainable, and if we are to live up to the Paris Agreement target of keeping the global temperature rise ‘well below 2°C’, it is necessary both to act quickly and involve food,” the Danish Council of Ethics said earlier this year.

Time to get used to non-meat options like the Impossible Burger, I guess.

(Images: iStock)