Sunday, January 7, 2018

Brits propose meat tax

A group of animal activists in England is calling for a tax on meat as a measure to reduce greenhouse gases and to improve diets.

The Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) Initiative says meat consumption has increased five-fold since 1992 and has contributed to greenhouse gas emissions, global obesity, rising rates of diabetes and cancer, soil degradation and deforestation.

The British activist group says meat should be treated like tobacco, sugar and carbon, which are often taxed because they are harmful to people's health and the environment.

"We've seen an increasing trend toward intervention, especially in Europe, this idea of looking at sin taxes," said Lauren Compere, managing director at Boston Common Asset Management, an environmentally-minded investment group.

She said Denmark, Sweden and Germany are considering legislation to tax meat.

Compere told CBC's B.C. Almanac host Michelle Eliot that such a tax is part of a group of incentives that could to address the problems associated with increased meat production.

"Even marginally decreasing the consumption of meat increases health cost savings and also reduces environmental degradation," she said.

A similar tax imposed on sugar in Mexico generated revenue that was used to install drinking fountains and accessible clean water in depressed and lower-income neighbourhoods, Compere said.

That, in turn, reduced the amount of sugar these residents consumed because they were no longer drinking as much soda or juice. 

Revenue generated by a meat tax could be spent on improving consumer education on nutrition and plant-based diets, which could also help reduce meat consumption, Compere said.