What do we cut down on?

A recent article in the Guardian newspaper highlighted the impact of meat consumption on greenhouse gas emissions with a suggestion that meat could be taxed.

Meat should be taxed to encourage people to eat less of it, so reducing the production of global warming gases from sheep, cattle and goats, according to a group of scientists.   Several high-profile figures, from the chief of the UN’s climate science panel to the economist Lord Stern, have previously advocated eating less meat to tackle global warming.

The scientists’ analysis, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, takes the contentious step of suggesting methane emissions be cut by pushing up the price of meat through a tax or emissions trading scheme.

“Influencing human behaviour is one of the most challenging aspects of any large-scale policy, and it is unlikely that a large-scale dietary change will happen voluntarily without incentives,” they say. “Implementing a tax or emission trading scheme on livestock’s greenhouse gas emissions could be an economically sound policy that would modify consumer prices and affect consumption patterns.”


Comment    The article raises some interesting questions about how we might deal with greenhouse gas emissions from meat consumption.   It raises certain questions.

1)   We need to look at the whole range of sources of emissions not focus on individual areas;

2) What is the most equitable method of cutting emissions?  Taxes will impact more on lower income groups than higher income groups.

3)  We also need to look at population levels – more people mean greater use of resources.

We have to adopt an approach which is holistic, equitable and sustainable.

For thought:

Flying to Gatwick from Newquay results in the emission of 0.23 Metric tonnes per passenger.

A similar level of emissions come from:

350 trips of 2 miles each by car or;

Consuming 1,000 4 lb steaks.

Where do we cut and how?


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