The best way to reduce global warming would be to tax meat so people would consume less of it, a British think says.
The tax proposed by the Chatham House would be part of a broader effort to reduce meat consumption by 14 percent. The tax would be about $1 per pound.
“Meat consumption can no longer be ignored in the climate debate – shifting diets to less meat and more plant proteins will be crucial,” Clare Oxborrow, a spokeswoman for Friends of the Earth, told The Guardian.
Oxborrow’s organization is one of a number of environmental and animal rights groups promoting the tax in the United Kingdom.
“We are not in any way advocating for global vegetarianism,” said Laura Wellesley, the lead author of a research study by Chatham House and Glasgow University. “We can see massive changes [to emissions] from just converging around healthy levels of meat eating.”
Wellesley’s team studied public attitudes in 12 countries in order to determine if there was public support for reducing meat consumption. They found there was some support for reducing government subsidies for meat and even a tax if it was seen to be implemented in the name of the public good.
Why Environmentalists Want a Meat Tax
Environmentalists favor a meat tax because they calculate meat production creates 15 percent of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. According to them, meat production adds more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than all the vehicles in the world.
Chatham House tried to see what the public response to such taxes would be by holding focus groups around the world.
The research found that a “carbon tax” on meat would be the most effective means of reducing meat consumption and production, The Telegraph reported. Not surprisingly, they also found it would be among the most unpopular. Some other suggestions such as eliminating government subsidies for meat and livestock were far more popular.
Chatham House does not believe there would be as much opposition to such a tax as some politicians believe.
“Our focus groups show people expect governments to lead action on issues that are for the global good,” Wellesley said. “Our research indicates any backlash to unpopular policies would likely be short-lived as long as the rationale for action was strong.”
The tax would be part of an organized campaign to reduce meat consumption, which would include public education efforts similar to anti-smoking campaigns and the elimination of meat from school lunchroom, military mess halls, hospital cafeterias and other government-run eateries. The money from the tax would be used to finance alternatives to meat such as vegetarian food.
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