The European Parliament will next week be presented with a plan to increase the price of meat across the EU in a move intended to reflect its full environmental impacts.
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 Netherlands-based TAPP Coalition, which brings together farming, health, and environment organisations. It will be debated by MEPs on 5 February.
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. Its backers say it could also be used to lower VAT and fund 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.
Philip Mansbridge, executive director (UK) for plant-based food advocacy group ProVeg International, one of the TAPP Coalition members, said: “The time has come for us to act decisively with policy on the environmental consequences of animal protein, the price of which has been kept artificially low for far too long. Here we have a solution that is fair for farmers and supports the transition to a more plant-based food system that we so urgently need if we are serious about mitigating climate change.”
TheTAPP Coalition says that what it calls “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, is said, would equal 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, added: “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.”
TAPP believes there are wider, additional benefits of a sustainability charge. TAPP Coalition Director, comments: “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 a breakfast event at the European Parliament on 5 February, moderated by the vice-chair of the Greens, Bas Eickhout, and co-hosted by Social Democrat MEPs Mohammed Chahim and Sylwia Spurek. The event has been organised by TAPP Coalition and Compassion in World Farming EU.