‘Sustainability charge’ on meat to be debated by MEPs

'Sustainability charge' on meat to be debated by MEPs
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A plan to increase the price of meat across the EU to reflect its environmental costs will be debated by MEPs next week.

The fair-meat pricing proposal – also known as a ‘sustainability charge’ – is set out in a new report which calls for a new pricing model to be included in the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy. It would apply to member states from 2022.

The report was written by the TAPP Coalition, which comprises leading farming, health, and environment organisations.

A key aspect of the proposal is that revenues from the sustainability charge – projected at €32.2 billion per year across 28 EU Member States by 2030 – could be used primarily to help farmers to invest in more sustainable agricultural practices.

It could also be used to lower VAT and consumer subsidies on vegetables and fruits, provide financial support for low-income households, and support developing countries to adapt to climate change and protect forests and biodiversity.

The scale of potential environmental savings is outlined in the report. Fair meat prices in Europe could lead to a reduction in CO2-eq. emissions of up to 120 million tons of CO2 per year. This equals all CO2 emissions from four EU Member States: Ireland, Denmark, Slovakia, and Estonia, and nearly 3% of all EU greenhouse gas emissions.

Pier Vellinga, Climate Professor and TAPP Coalition Chair, said: “Including the environmental cost of animal protein in the price is a crucial element of meeting EU targets for climate, biodiversity, public health, and animal welfare.”

There are also wider benefits of a sustainability charge, as Jeroom Remmers, TAPP Coalition Director, highlights: “If EU meat consumption reduces and plant-based protein consumption rises, healthcare costs will reduce too, as Europeans eat roughly 50% more meat than is recommended in dietary health guidelines. We could also save billions of Euros every year in lower healthcare costs.”

MEPs will debate the proposal at the European Parliament on 5 February.