Denmark Is Debating the Merits of a ‘Red Meat Tax’ to Fight Climate Change

By Mike Pomranz |

© Con Poulos

At just over 5.6 million people, Denmark is a small country, making up less than 0.1 percent of the global population. But while some believe their nation is still obligated to do everything they can to fight climate change, others aren’t so sure.

The debate stems from a recent recommendation by the Danish Council on Ethics suggesting that Denmark should issue a “climate tax” on all purchases of red meat to help reduce the country’s meat consumption which in turn would benefit the environment. “Danes are ethically obligated to change their eating habits” the council concluded according to The Local, but without government intervention, leaving it up to consumers “will not be effective.”

Unfortunately, the ethics council is getting push back from its own government which believes that even if they did impose a tax on red meat, it wouldn’t be effective. “Maybe it would get beef consumption to fall in Denmark, but it wouldn't do much of anything for the world's CO2 emissions,” said Thomas Danielsen, a spokesman for the governing Venstre party. Apparently, Danielsen hasn’t heard the old adage “you have to start somewhere.”

Still, the onus doesn’t fall entirely on Denmark, and they aren’t the only country to ponder the benefits of a meat tax. A recent study in the UK also concluded that the use of a sin tax would have benefits to both people’s health and the environment. And yet, Britain doesn’t seem to be rushing towards adding any major sin taxes anytime soon.

Of course, there is another way. As human beings, we could all chose to do what’s better for the environment. But of course, there’s another old adage: the only thing certain in life is death and taxes. Notice how it doesn’t say “death, taxes and caring about the environment.” So maybe lumping those last two together is the only solution.