The Danish Council of Ethics is recommending that the country impose a tax on meat to fight global warming. The group says that its research finds cattle account for about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Food production taken as a whole — which includes transportation, irrigation, fertilizers, and refrigeration — is responsible for nearly 30% of all emissions, the council says. The Council concluded that “climate change is an ethical problem.”
After members of the Council approved the results of the study by a majority vote, the Council put out a press release in which it said Denmark was under direct threat from climate change and it was not enough to rely on the “ethical consumer” to ensure the country meets its UN commitments. “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.”
Danes are “ethically obliged” to change their eating habits, the statement added and claimed that it is “unproblematic” to cut out beef and still enjoy a healthy and nutritious diet. The proposed tax would apply initially to only to beef but the idea of a tax to promote a sustainable lifestyle could be extended to other meats and indeed all foods in coming years, with those having the greatest impact on climate change being taxed at the highest rates.
“For a response to climate-damaging food to be effective, while also contributing to raise awareness of the challenge of climate change, it must be shared,” said council spokesman Mickey Gjerris. “This requires society to send a clear signal through regulation.” The proposal will now be considered by the Danish government.
Consumption of red meat has declined markedly since the World Health Organization warned recently of a possible link between red meat and cancer.