How bacon sandwiches could help fight climate change

The Danish proposal for a red meat tax remind us of a bleak reality: climate change remains the greatest long-term threat to human prosperity and security – and we need policies that take it seriously

Wednesday 27 April 2016 18:59 BST
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Sliced bacon with herbs
Sliced bacon with herbs

Danes, famed for their bacon, may soon be paying more for their meat. The Danish Council of Ethics – which sounds charmingly woolly but is, in fact, established by an Act of Parliament to advise MPs – has suggested that food should be taxed in proportion to its impact on climate change.

With cattle responsible for an estimated 10 per cent of all global greenhouse emissions, it is hardly surprising that beef should be in the Council’s immediate sights. But in pursuit of a more ethical approach to food consumption, other red meats may also take a hit, with less obvious targets perhaps to follow.

The recommendations will be considered by the Danish government – perhaps cautiously. Opponents will point to food poverty and the need to preserve consumer choice. Few members of the public are likely to want to pay more for their steak or frikadeller. A spokesman for Venestre, the party currently holding power in Denmark (albeit as a minority government), noted that a beef tax in one, small European country was unlikely to have much of an effect on global emissions.

However, the proposals remind us of the bleak reality that climate change remains the greatest long-term threat to our future prosperity and security. The world may have found little common ground on how to respond thus far, but initiatives like that mooted in Denmark should be taken seriously if we are to develop a sustainable and lasting approach on the subject. Better that, than trying to combat ever more erratic climate conditions on the hoof.

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