LET THEM EAT CAKE: GREEN MP DEMANDS MEAT TAX TO STOP CLIMATE CHANGE
A green MP has called on Parliament to impose a tax on meat to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate change.
Caroline Lucas told delegates at the Oxford Farming Conference an overhaul of Britain’s agri-industrial food system is needed because it is in “crisis” and is favouring consolidation at the expense of human health, ecology and the livelihoods of farmers.
In a speech entitled ‘A radical new vision for British agriculture’ delivered on Friday, Ms Lucas set out her vision for farming which included greater attention to animal welfare, fewer pesticides, a reduction in food waste, and adopting a diet with less meat and dairy products. Half of all farmed animal emissions come from beef and lamb, according to research by scientists Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek.
Ms Lucas referred to MP Claire Perry, who said if the Cabinet ate less beef to set an example it would lead to the introduction of a “nanny state”.
Ms Lucas said: “At the risk of incurring the wrath of the energy secretary in particular who said recently that encouraging people to eat less meat would be ‘the worst sort of nanny state ever’, I’d add that we need serious consideration of measures like a meat tax, particularly for beef.
“I accept that British sheep farming is one of the least intensive forms of livestock farming so perhaps a banded system according to production would help, offset for more sustainable meat producers through increased revenue from targeted agri-environment schemes.”
But NFU vice president Stuart Roberts hit back at her demands, tweeting: “We all share the ambition to address climate change but taxing isn’t the way.
“There’s great potential for market based drivers and future agriculture policy to underpin our positive direction of travel without looking at regressive tax solution. Let’s see market-based solutions.”
Earlier in the week, Minettte Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union called for zero farming emissions by 2040.
Ms Lucas said she felt “encouraged” to hear her comments and hopes she can count on the NFU to support her amendment to the Agriculture Bill to achieve it.