Thursday 28 April 2016 6:53 pm

Danish Council of Ethics votes in favour of a climate change-focused meat tax

Most of us by now have adjusted to news that a sugar tax is coming, but how would we react to a tax on meat?

Denmark may have to consider just that question, after members of the Danish Council of Ethics voted in favour of a proposal that recommends placing a "climate tax" on beef initially, but later extending to all meats. 

A "large majority" – 14 of 17 members – of the council voted for the proposal, which will now be put forward for consideration to the Danish government. 

"The Danish way of life is far from climate sustainable, and if we are to live up to the Paris Agreement target of keeping the global temperature rise "well" below two degrees Celsius, it is necessary both to act quickly and involve food," the council said in a statement. 

Read more: The nanny state we're living in isn't helping our health

"Different foods affect the climate very differently and changing consumption can lead to big gains. Research shows that diet changes for a small intake of meat from ruminants in countries like Denmark could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food by 20 per cent to 35 per cent."

Climate change emissions related to meat foodstuffs accounts for 19 to 29 per cent of global emissions, of which cattle alone creates 10 per cent, the council argued. 

"For a response to climate damaging foods to be effective, while contributing to raising awareness of the climate challenge, it must be shared, which requires society through regulation that sends a clear signal to society," said Mickey Gjerris, chairman of the Council working group.

George Osborne announced in the Budget last month that the government will introduce a sugar tax focusing on soft drinks to help alleviate obesity, particularly in children. 

However, there's been no talk of a meat tax yet – we may have to wait until next year's Budget for that one.