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Denmark Is Eyeing a Tax on Red Meat to Fight Climate Change

Ultimately, the Council thought Danes wouldn’t change their diets enough to meet global environmental standards without some type of measure.
Foto von Taryn via Flickr

Denmark is a trailblazer when it comes to environmental issues like sustainability, and we know they know a thing or two about food, too. Sometimes those two stars align, like when Copenhagen's perpetual darling noma adopted a zero-waste policy, or when a Copenhagen charity opened a supermarket that only sells dented or expired food.

Well, the coastal nation of beautiful socialists is at it again in an effort that will make the rest of us look like selfish and uncaring jerks. According to The Local, the Danish Council on Ethics, an independent body that advises the Danish government, has called for a climate tax on red meat in an effort to lower red meat consumption and fight climate change.


The Council debated for six months before deciding whether or not to call for government intervention in people's eating habits. Ultimately, they thought Danes wouldn't change their diets enough to meet global environmental standards without some type of measure.

"An effective response to climate-damaging foods that will also contribute to raising awareness of climate change must be united, which requires that society sends a clear signal through regulation," Mickey Gjerris, a spokesman for the Council, said.

If you've been powering down porterhouses in ignorant bliss, you might need a reminder that a meat-heavy diet isn't good for the environment (or your health). Livestock accounts for nearly 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions around the world. It takes nearly 2,000 gallons of water to raise one pound of beef, and that whole time cows are munching away, farting out harmful methane gas in massive quantities. Methane gas is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide for the first two decades it's in the atmosphere. To top it off, 26 percent of Earth's ice-free land is used for livestock grazing, according to the UN, and 33 percent of croplands are devoted to livestock feed.

READ MORE: Eating Lots of Red Meat Will Actually Increase Your Appetite

So as the waters rise and storms intensify, eating less meat is a prudent thing to do. A recent study found that if the world went vegetarian, it would decrease greenhouse gases by 63 percent. Hell, even legendary beefcake Arnold Schwarzenegger is on board, and has publicly advocated that people eat less meat.

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council, however, quickly fired back at the Danish Council on Ethics, saying the efforts needed to set up a tax system would be massive and the results minimal. And the governing party, Venestre, said they were unlikely to act on the Council on Ethics resolution.

READ MORE: Would a Tax on Beef Really Help the Environment (and Our Health)?

"Maybe it would get beef consumption to fall in Denmark, but it wouldn't do much of anything for the world's CO2 emissions," a Venestre spokesperson said.

The Council on Ethics keeps on dreaming, though, and would like to see all climate-damaging foods taxed in the future. Keep at it, Council—if any country can do it, it's you, Denmark. We're a bit behind you on these kinds of things here in the United States.