Researchers from international think-tank Chatham House suggested that placing tax on meat could contribute in saving the Earth from the drastic effects of climate change.
Experts believe that cutting the consumption of meat to the recommended level could produce a quarter of the remaining emission reductions needed to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius. A "carbon tax" of £1.76 or $2.66 per kilo on the price of beef could reduce meat consumption by 14 percent, the researchers suggested.
In a report entitled "Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption," Chatham House researchers looked into several key points that could help experts understand how our food consumption affects climate change.
Growing Appetite For Meat
About 15 percent of global carbon emissions are accounted to the livestock sector, researchers said. This number is equivalent to that of the carbon emissions from the combined vehicle exhausts of planes, cars, trains and ships all over the world.
Researchers said global consumption of meat is set to increase to 75 percent by the middle of the century. This would make it virtually impossible to keep global mean temperature levels to the limit of 2 degrees Celsius, they said.
Additionally, in several industrialized countries, the average individual eats twice as much meat than what is considered healthy. Overconsumption of meat even leads to elevated risks for non-communicable disease such as obesity, cancer and Type 2 diabetes, but government officials are afraid to intervene, researchers said.
Laura Wellesley, the study's lead author, said government officials often think that public health interventions which affect the livestock industry are too politically sensitive and are too difficult to implement. Wellesley and her colleagues found that people expect their governments to lead initiatives regarding global food issues.
"Governments are ignoring what should be a hugely appealing, win-win policy," said Wellesley. "Our research indicates any backlash to unpopular policies would likely be short-lived as long as the rationale for action was strong."
The Chatham House group urges ministers to lessen the amount of meat served in the armed forces, hospitals and schools. Instead, by using the proceeds from the tax, the government should fund healthier alternatives which are less harmful to the environment.
The researchers also suggested that the government should cut subsidies to livestock farmers, with the help of campaigns raising public awareness. The researchers believe that disseminating public information about the problems of overconsumption of animal products can help stop the cycle of inertia, which in turn creates more political space for policy intervention.
"We are not in any way advocating for global vegetarianism," said Wellesley.
She added that massive changes regarding global carbon emissions can be seen just by converging around the healthy and recommended levels of meat consumption.
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