Climate council calls for meat tax in Denmark

The war on food supply

Published 26 February 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Danish politicians want their citizens to eat less red meat.

Denmark’s climate council proposes a carbon tax on meat products for consumers, but the idea is rejected by a committee of experts who question whether it would have any effect on emissions in Denmark. The expert committee argues that farmers should be taxed instead.

The government’s climate advisor believes that politicians in the country should introduce a consumption tax on meat in supermarkets so that consumers have to pay more for beef and other products that emit carbon dioxide.

– There are good reasons to levy a tax on what is in the fridge and especially on the big climate villains in the fridge – such as red meat, Peter Møllgaard, chairman of the Danish Climate Council, told Danish state broadcaster DR.

The tax would be imposed on all beef, regardless of which country it comes from.

On Wednesday, a committee of experts led by Michael Svarer, professor of economics at Aarhus University, presented its own proposals on how to achieve the climate targets in Denmark. They scrapped the proposal for a consumption tax and pointed out that it would not be “particularly economically appropriate” to introduce a CO2 tax on the products in the fridge.

– It is difficult to implement because it is hard to know the exact climate impact of a Dr. Oetker pizza from Bavaria, he said.

“Controlling consumer demand”

– If you don’t know, you have to use average figures, and then the producer has no incentive to change their behavior because they still have to pay the average tax rate. Then you don’t achieve the behavioral effect that you want for the tax. This is why we have chosen to avoid a consumption tax, Svarer continues.

Instead, it is proposed that a carbon tax could be introduced for agriculture. The tax would make it more expensive for farmers to produce, for example, milk and meat, which also means that it would make the products more expensive for the customer. However, according to calculations, such a tax would, for example, make 500 grams of beef an average of DKK 4.5 more expensive. However, the Climate Council considers this to be too little.

– The idea is that it should be more expensive if you demand goods that have a high climate impact. The idea is that we need to steer consumer demand away from things that cause a lot of pollution, says Møllgaard.

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