The possibility of a behavioural tax, also known as a “sin tax”, has been increased by a global consensus around the role meat plays in both climate change and illnesses including cancer, according to the Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) investor network.
The forum, which informs investors of the risks involved in intensive livestock farming, has produced a report claiming that meat could soon be taxed in the same way as tobacco and sugar.
Jeremy Coller, chief investment officer of Coller Capital and founder of the FAIRR initiative said: “If policymakers are to cover the true cost of livestock epidemics like avian flu and human epidemics like obesity, diabetes and cancer, while also tackling the twin challenges of climate change and antibiotic resistance, then a shift from subsidisation to taxation of the meat industry looks inevitable.”
Countries such as Sweden and Denmark have already looked into a meat tax, or “livestock levy”. It comes as various organisations warn of the negative impacts of meat consumption.
The Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that livestock cause 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while the World Health Organization has said that processed meats increase the risk of cancer.
Dr Marco Spingmann, senior researcher on environmental sustainability and public health at the University of Oxford, said that a tax could be a “first and important step” in addressing both environmental and health concerns and “it would send a strong signal that dietary change towards more healthy and sustainable plant-based diets is urgently needed to preserve both our health and the environment”.