Red meat should be taxed to save our planet, in a wider drive towards more plant-based diets, a United Nations has suggested.
Farming livestock accounts for 77% of agricultural land worldwide, the UN’s Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report said.
An ‘Emissions Tax’ on food could reduce the greenhouse gases emitted in livestock farming – and help to reduce the loss of animal habitats.
The UN believes that such a tax could save one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent per year.
The report said, ‘The extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food make up about half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress.
‘The Global Resources Outlook shows that we are ploughing through this planet’s finite resources as if there is no tomorrow, causing climate change and biodiversity loss along the way,’ said Joyce Msyua, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment.
‘Frankly, there will be no tomorrow for many people unless we stop.’
Research published last year found that the Western world will need to cut beef intake by 90% (and compensate with beans and pulses) as population surges to 10 billion people by 2050.
The research, published in Nature, focused on the environmental impact of intensive farming, which uses huge amounts of water and produces greenhouse gases from livestock.
The problem will get far worse as global population rises by 2.3 billion by 2050, and global income triples – which will enable more people to eat meat-rich Western diets.
The scientists called for a ‘global shift’ towards plant-based diets and to cut food waste.