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The steaks are too high: EU considers introduction of 'meat tax' to fight climate change

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The steaks are too high: EU considers introduction of 'meat tax' to fight climate change
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Euronews - Murray, Trent
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Should meat eaters be expected to pay more for their meal as a way to counter the environmental cost of what's on their plate?

That's the question that European lawmakers will be asked to consider today.

A new report, by a Dutch advocacy group, says that in order to reduce European CO2 emissions, a levy should be placed on meat to lower consumption across the continent.

The True Animal Protein Price Coalition (TAPP), says a tax on beef, pork and chicken could see up to a 70 per cent drop in meat-eating by 2030.

"The plan is to increase the price of meat across the EU to reflect its environmental costs, including CO2 emissions and biodiversity loss," says the report.

New proposal in the Netherlands

According to the TAPP, the Dutch Cabinet will present a proposal for "fair meat prices" to the Dutch Parliament in coming months.

"This was supported over the last year by a majority of Dutch consumers (63%) in a survey," says the advocacy group.

"(We're) aiming to start a discussion on how to scale up this Dutch model to fit Europe, based on a higher meat price that benefits all stakeholders involved, including farmers, consumers and environmental NGOs."

Domestic diets

While there has been strong support for tackling climate change inside the European Union, increasing the price of meat is likely to meet strong resistance from member states.

Western Europeans are some of the highest consumers of meat in the world.

On a global scale, the average, per capita meat consumption has increased by approximately 20kg since 1961, with the average person consuming around 43kg of meat in 2014, according to UN data.

For the countries where data was available, Spain and Austria saw the highest average consumption on the European mainland, both well above this figure at 94.04kg and 90.87kg respectively.

Still, with the EU expected to introduce it's long-awaited European Green Deal in coming months, the TAPP is hoping to leverage the momentum towards climate action by including their "new pricing model to be included in the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy."

European meat industry fights back

But while TAPP is lobbying MEPS to make changes, the European meat industry has hit back, questioning the underlying data in the study.

“The report does not take into account the protein density of meat. If emissions were calculated on the basis of essential amino acids instead of weight, the production of some crops that are used as a source of ‘alternative’ proteins would become more emissive than beef, pork or chicken,” a spokesperson for the Liason Centre for the Meat Processing Industry in the EU told Euronews.

“Nutrient density matters were conveniently ignored (in this report) and the role of meat as a nutrient-dense food in a balanced diet was also completely ignored,” they said.

“We also note that the report does not take into account the efforts carried out by farmers and processors to improve the sustainability of the European livestock chain.”

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