Friday, March 14, 2008

The beef and the greenhouse

Working with climate change, I have long known that livestock production is one of the larger sources of greenhouse gas emissions. A recent UN report has now confirmed that meat production is responsible for even more emissions than all of the transportation sector (that is air, land and sea).


Surprisingly, the national media in Sweden has picked up on this and asked leading politicians about their views. Somewhat less surprisingly, their responses, for the most part, accounted to nothing but a flat denial, saying that meat consumption simply is “not the problem”.

Personally, I think it is very good that the issue has finally emerged politically. Though I tend to be hesitant about the environmental citizenship approach and its focus on individual guilt (as opposed to collective progressive action), I still think there could be an interesting policy window here.

Let’s face it. Despite being a meat eater myself I have no problem recognizing that the average Swedish meat consumption of 80 kilograms per year is nothing but perverse. It is not good from a health aspect, it is not good for the animals and it is definitely not good for the global climate. And there is something very simple we can do: Eat less meat. It does not cost anything (we actually save money by doing it). Beyond voluntary action, I find the idea of a “meat tax” laudable. Not only would it have obvious progressive effects (just visit any steak house and you will find a majority of well-off men) it would also lower obesity-related healthcare costs while allowing tax breaks on more climate friendly food.

2 Comments:

Anonymous IAD-woman without home said...

I am happy you bring up the topic = eat less meat! However, even if it is for the good, it just makes me shaking my head that we now have to take the oh so popular climate-discussion-detour in our logic to save animals. Why is the trigger "climate-friendly-food" (stupid word!) working better than "animal-friendly-food"? In other words: why is Knut in the zoo cuter than a happy pig on a meadow? Humans are weird!

6:48 pm  
Blogger Rasmus said...

Point taken. But as often I guess there may be different means to the same good end.

For instance, telling Americans to invest in new technology in the name of energy-independence seems to be a lot more effective than asking them to do it for the environment. Yet, the result will be the same...

7:43 pm  

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