The UK Health Alliance says that implementing a tax on unsustainable food products such as meat could help combat climate change.

A tax on foods that damage the climate could support a national move towards a healthier and greener diet.

The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change is calling for the introduction of a climate tax, to encourage farmers and the public to cut back on livestock agriculture.

The alliance, which includes scientists, doctors and health professionals is warning that food accounts for 25% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – and cutting back on meat products could reduce the impact while also improving public health.

On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Environmental Commentator John Gibbons said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had already warned that livestock agriculture is “contributing more to deforestation, land-use change and biodiversity loss than any other sector in the world.”

“Feeding these farmed animals is the reason we are basically cutting down the natural world.”

“It is not just the space taken up by livestock,” he said. “It is the fact that vast amounts of our agricultural systems are given over the producing food to feed this massive horde of livestock. If you take it globally there are just under eight billion humans on earth, but at any given time, there are about 70 billion farmed animals on Earth. Feeding these farmed animals is the reason we are basically cutting down the natural world.”

Deforestation

He said Irish farms are “very much part of the problem” when it comes to deforestation and climate change.

“Ireland, over the last number of years, is importing probably between four and five million tonnes per year of feedstuffs for our animal herd and most of that is originating in South America and Central America,” he said. “So, in fact, yes, forests are being cleared to feed animals that are actually being reared in Ireland so we are very much part of that problem, we are not disconnected from it.”

“This is not just a climate and resource issue; it is also for our own health.”

“We are also part of the problem of being part of that First World that is over-consuming beef and dairy. This is not just a climate and resource issue; it is also for our own health. We know for a fact in Ireland, the UK and many other European countries we consume more meat than is actually safe levels from our own health point of view.”

Plant-based

He said it is time to shift back towards a far more plant-dominated diet. “I am old enough to remember when meat was considered to be that little bit extra,” he said. “The bulk of your diet was, in fact, based around fruit and vegetables and that is probably where we are heading back to.”

“The world is not big enough to feed eight billion humans and 70 billion farmed animals. We literally haven’t enough world left to do it.”

Ringfenced

Mr Gibbons said any climate tax would have to be ringfenced to support farmers and consumers. “We need to ringfence it to ensure that healthier food options and less emissions-intensive food options are made cheaper,” he said.

“We all know we need to be eating more vegetables and more fruit and we need to move away from the meats and so on but we need support to do it. Also, of course, we need to support our farmers to produce it.”

Original source: https://www.newstalk.com

 

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