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Meat prices would rise 146 percent if environmental costs were taken into account

The price of animal products would increase significantly if the environmental costs of making them were taken into account. This emerges from a new study by the University of Augsburg in Germany, which was recently published in Nature communication. In their research, the university found that including the cost of environmental damage such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane emissions, as well as land use caused by animal husbandry, would increase the price of animal meat by 146 percent and increase the price of dairy products by 91 percent. “We ourselves were surprised by the big difference between the food groups examined and the resulting misinterpretation of animal foods in particular,” said study author Tobias Gaugler.

Alternatively, the researchers found that including the environmental cost of making organic plant products would only increase their price by six percent. “If these market errors no longer existed or were at least reduced, this would also have a significant impact on the demand for food,” said Amelie Michalke, another author of the study. “A food that is significantly more expensive will also be much less in demand.”

Meat tax
In a comprehensive global study from 2016, the Oxford Martin Future of Food Program found that a global average tax of 40 percent on meat and 20 percent on dairy is required to offset the high carbon footprint of the livestock industry. Since its publication, several countries, including Germany, have considered offsetting the climate costs of meat production by introducing a tax. In February 2020, the Amsterdam-based TAPP (True Animal Protein Price) coalition tabled a proposal to the European Union (EU) setting “fair prices” for meat based on the cost of greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution and Loss are based on wildlife related animal husbandry. In its proposal, TAPP suggested increasing the price of beef by about 25 percent over the next ten years. Neither Germany nor the EU have introduced an environmental tax on animal products. Instead, governments around the world continue to subsidize meat and dairy products every year to keep prices down. This is essentially the opposite of what the new research and previous proposals suggest.

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