What Meat Really Costs Us
Scientists have for the first time produced model calculations for a meat price that takes into account the costs of climate change and nitrate pollution. The researchers advocate the introduction of a meat tax to counteract the environmental damage caused by meat consumption.
Around 13 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to livestock farming. At the same time, in many places it has a negative impact on plant and species diversity. Fertilizers cause nitrate concentrations in water and soil to rise; forests are cleared to create new pastureland and to grow animal feed. But so far, environmental impacts have not been factored into the price we pay for meat: Given its environmental effects, it's too cheap. This is what Professor Linus Mattauch, Robert Bosch Junior Professor "Sustainable Use of Natural Resources 2020" at TU Berlin, and Franziska Funke (TU Berlin and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) write in an article for the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy. Together with colleagues from the University of Oxford, they have for the first time produced model calculations for a meat price that takes into account the costs of climate change and nitrate pollution - and can be extended, for example, to include the costs of animal welfare and human health.
“Greenhouse gas neutrality cannot be achieved without ambitious measures in the food sector.”
In their paper, the researchers argue for the introduction of a meat tax, similar to the gasoline tax, to counteract the environmental damage of meat consumption. "Without a reduction in per capita meat consumption in the countries of the global North, it will not be possible to halt the loss of species and stop straining planetary boundaries," says Mattauch. The revenue from the tax could then be used to support low-income households, for example, which would be particularly burdened by higher meat prices