Academic's call to tax red meat beyond the reach of shoppers in EU

Chris McLennan
By Chris McLennan
May 14 2022 - 1:00am
FLOATED BEFORE: It is not the first time the idea has been floated in Europe to tax meat out of the reach of ordinary citizens.

Pricing red meat beyond the reach of shoppers is on the climate change agenda again in Europe.

EU leaders have been urged again to radically lift taxes to stop people eating meat.

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Yet another study says the wealthy must reduce meat eating by a mighty 75 per cent in order for countries to meet global climate goals.

Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany found half of the world's grain is fed to animals which are then turned into food.

Slugging meat with higher taxes is "currently being considered by several countries", the study claims.

"It is a costly inefficiency when it comes to resource usage," the researchers found.

They said it would be impossible to maintain current levels of meat consumption and still feed the world into the future.

Scientists have recommended higher meat taxes with same aim in the past which was not adopted.

Only recently, Meat and Livestock Australia managing director Jason Strong said Australia's red meat industry had actually achieved greater cuts to its carbon emissions than any other sector of our economy.

"The reality is that individuals are emitting almost twice as much carbon by driving a car than by eating beef three or four times a week," Mr Strong said.

The German researchers also said animal agriculture was a major contributor to global warming.

The study found the average EU citizen currently eats 80kg of meat annually.

Australians tuck into 90kg each year on average.

United States citizens eat an average 124kg of meat annually.

The study says maintaining those levels of meat consumption was not feasible for the growing world population.

"If all humans consumed as much meat as Europeans or North Americans, we would certainly miss the international climate targets and many ecosystems would collapse," Professor Matin Qaim from Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn said.

"We therefore need to significantly reduce our meat consumption, ideally to 20 kilograms or less annually," Prof Qaim said.

He said the war in Ukraine and the resulting shortages in international markets for cereal grains also underline that less grain should be fed to animals in order to support food security.

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Prof Qaim again proposed forcing a change in eating habits by taxing meat.

He agreed the tax move might be unpopular among consumers.

"Meat, however, has a high environmental cost that is not reflected in current prices. It would be entirely reasonable and fair to have consumers share more of these costs."

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Chris McLennan

Chris McLennan

National Rural Property Writer

ACM national rural property writer based in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria. Career journalist. Multi award winner.

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