Triplepundit reports that agriculture has a huge negative impact on the environment, including being responsible for 11 percent of global carbon emissions. And in a report published in the journal Nature, researchers from the Food Policy institute argue that there is immense climate mitigation potential if we just change our diets. And they feel that levying a tax might just force the change.
Their report says that the true impacts of food aren't included in the price we pay at the store. An example they share is that organic produce is far more expensive than a factory-farmed piece of red meat, despite the fact that the former has a far smaller carbon footprint, and that in nearly every country, eating sustainably is more expensive than eating unsustainably.
They point out that eating sustainably isn't an option for most people, which is why factory farms are still the norm. “Besides reducing carbon emissions … a carbon tax could spur innovation to reduce the carbon intensity of future food production, realizing more gains down the line,” three of the report’s authors, Daniel Mason-D’Croz, Keith Wiebe and Sherman Robinson, wrote in a op-ed on Reuters' website. “Taxing red meat and other carbon-intensive items has the potential to be a global win-win policy.”
“A carbon tax on food, if done right, could help nations meet emission reduction targets while improving nutrition and public health,” added the report’s authors.
So, a carbon tax on carbon-intense foods could have a double benefit: helping our planet while reducing adverse health impacts. Ideally, such a tax could be revenue-neutral by subsidizing environmentally friendly, healthy foods such as organic produce, regenerative agriculture or even new cellular-agriculture food products.