People would be open to pay a meat tax to protect the environment

Secondo uno studio condotto da Chatham House e dall’Università di Glasgow le persone sarebbero propense a ridurre il consumo di carne per motivi di salute e per ridurre l’impatto ambientale.

Can – what we consider – our meal contribute to dooming our planet? Yes, if it is made with meat. Animal farming produces more emissions than the total transport industry: breeding farms produce 32 billion tonnes of CO2 each year, i.e. 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions, whilst the industry of dairy products and meat use 30% of the global fresh water.


Animal farming
Animal farming generates 51% of total greenhouse gas emissions © David Levene


The low public awareness on the impact meat has is the greatest obstacle to hinder the phenomenon. In order to curb deforestation and reduce transports’ impact, governments took significant action, but there’s a huge gap as for animal husbandry.


This phenomenon could partly be curbed by taxing meat, increasing vegetarian food in schools, hospitals, and armed forces, and cutting subsidies to livestock farmers, all supported by effective information campaigns.


According to a research carried out by the UK independent association Chatham House and by the University of Glasgow, people would accept these restrictions if considered of public interest, such as smoking bans. The research involved 12 countries, including the United States, Brazil, China, and the UK, and has been realised through surveys and focus groups.

“The idea that interventions like this are too politically sensitive and too difficult to implement is unjustified,” said study’s author Laura Wellesley. “Our research shows that people expect governments to lead action on issues that are for the global good”.


If such trend is not curbed, meat consumption will increase by 75% by 2050. This growth would impede the achievement of the goal to keep the global temperature rise below 2°C.


Meat consumption
Meat consumption is likely to increase by 75% by 2050


In industrialised countries, meat consumption has already exceeded “healthy” levels and is strongly linked to increased onsets of hearth diseases and cancer. Indeed, the World Health Organisation has declared processed meat causes cancer.


According to the research, if the world population would reduce meat consumption to 70 grams per day, carbon emissions would be lowered to an amount equal to total US emissions, the second world’s emitter.


The ongoing climate talks at COP21 could represent the perfect scenario to make a speech on how meat impacts climate. According to the study, drastically reducing meat consumption would be the easiest and cheapest way to cut CO2 emissions, but actions aimed to reach this goal are currently non-existent.


Protesta dell’organizzazione animalista Peta per aumentare la consapevolezza del legame tra i cambiamenti climatici e il consumo di carne © Mathias Balk/Alamy Stock Photo


N.B.: no author of the study is vegetarian or vegan, but the key is “creating a new public understanding that industrial production of meat is not only dangerous to your own health but to human ecology as a whole,” said Greg Philo, researcher at the Glasgow University.

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