photo: Michael Cannon/Creative Commons
Let's take as given the fact that raising animals for meat and dairy is a major part of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. A new study coming out of the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology outlines one way of reining those in: A direct tax on meat and dairy.
One of €60/ton of CO2-equivalent would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from European agriculture by 7% and would also reduce beef consumption by 15%. If the land made available by decreasing meat and dairy production was used to produce bioenergy crops agricultural emissions would drop 42%. The authors say that such a tax shouldn't be seen as trying to force people to adopt vegetarian diets, "but merely moving towards a slightly more climate-smart diet."
What's a climate smart diet? While I personally advocate vegetarianism for a variety of reasons going beyond the environmental, strictly from a greenhouse gas emissions perspective replacing beef with chicken reduces emissions by 90%. Replace beef with beans and emissions are reduced by 99%.
Fredrik Hedenus, from Chalmers University, rightly notes,
If the world decides on substantial reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, land will become a scarce resource, as a lot of land may be needed for bioenergy. Land-efficient food production and consumption will therefore become increasingly important. And beef production requires twenty more land per kcal than beans. (Science Daily)
Read the original research, in the journal Climatic Change: Greenhouse gas taxes on animal food products: rationale, tax scheme and climate mitigation effects
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More on Agriculture & Climate Change:
UN Expert Says Eat Less Red Meat To Reduce CO2 Emissions
Study Finds Meat and Dairy Create More Emissions Than Miles
Steak 'n Bake? 51% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Now Come From Meat & Dairy Industry