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Climate change linked to animal products: Germany proposes action, the EU thwarts its own goals

Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is calling for higher taxes on animal products, given that meat and dairy production make a hefty contribution to climate change. Indeed, livestock production generates roughly 14.5 per cent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions – more than global transportation and deforestation.

Reducing meat consumption, a global driver of deforestation, will be crucial to keeping global warming below 1.5° Celsius. But while production of one kg of beef can generate as much as 28 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (compared with 1 kg emissions typically caused by cultivating 1 kg of fruits and vegetables), the same 7 per cent tax rate applies to both activities.

The UBA argues that this amounts to subsidising environmental harm, and that animal products should be taxed at the regular 19 per cent rate. The increased revenues would be used to benefit climate action and citizens.

The EU is not singing from the same hymnbook, however. In direct conflict with its Paris Climate Agreement commitments, the EU has committed to invest in promoting both meat consumption in Europe and European beef consumption in foreign markets. Fern and 11 NGOs have asked the Commission not to use public money to promote meat consumption, undermining its environmental aims, climate commitments and human health.

Photo: Bavarian sausage department.Stijn Nieuwendijk