Sugar Gets Taxed in Some Countries. Could Meat Be Next?

If Americans and people in most other developed countries ate according to their nationally recommended dietary guidelines, they would consume less red meat and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling climate change, new research shows.

But the world’s consumers don’t always eat what their government nutritionists tell them. So it might take a little more prodding—and that prodding could be on the way.

This week, the two-year-old investment network Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) released a report saying that countries could begin taxing meat—the way they tax sugar, alcohol or tobacco—to drive down consumption and to hit their carbon emissions targets under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

A few countries, including Germany, Denmark and Sweden, have considered behavioral, or “sin taxes,” on meat, but the taxes haven’t yet gained support. This type of tax aims to cut meat consumption for health reasons—reducing the healthcare costs associated with a high-fat, animal-based diet—as well as for environmental reasons.

“Agriculture emissions alone will be so high by 2050, that that alone will push temperatures above 2 degrees,” said FAIRR Director Maria Lettini, referring to the target set in Paris of limiting warming to at most 2…

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