Is the tax man coming for your steak?

By Ivana Kottasová. CNN, 12 December 2017.


First it was tobacco. Then sugar. Will meat be taxed next?

Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR), an investor network that advises on factory farming, says it is “increasingly probable” that countries will start taxing meat in order to fight climate change.

The group, backed by investors who manage $4 trillion in assets, argues that some governments could introduce “sin taxes” on meat consumption within five to 10 years in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Livestock farming is responsible for around 14.5% of all such emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It also requires huge amounts of water and land. Researchers say the issue must be addressed if countries are going to stick to the Paris Climate Agreement, the second anniversary of which is being celebrated Tuesday at a summit in Paris.

The aim of the Paris agreement, which has been signed by nearly 200 countries, is to limit warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But increased meat consumption could spoil their efforts. The UN forecasts that global demand for livestock products will double by 2050, as populations grow and become richer. The same year, agriculture could account for more than half of all emissions allowed under the Paris accord.

“It is clear that agricultural emissions have to be addressed,” said Marco Springmann, a senior environmental sustainability and public health researcher at Oxford University.

Chatham House, a think tank in the U.K., said that technological improvements could make a dent in agriculture emissions, but the only way to truly address the issue is to get people to eat less meat.

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