The purpose of the proposed tax would be to lower carbon emissions by encouraging consumers to avoid unsustainable food such as meat.
The farming minister has today signaled his support for taxes on meat and other high polluters in the food sector which contribute to global warming. George Eustice, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary said the government is already working on a tax system for the food sector.
Speaking to the Telegraph, he said the government’s plan involves the parts that contribute most to global warming, such as meat and dairy.
British meat will likely be cheaper for consumers than exports if the taxation system is brought in because it will be less polluting. Mr Eustice said ahead of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow tomorrow that the UK will need to ‘move into the realms of things like carbon taxes’ after EU agricultural subsidies are phased out.
The government hopes that by placing taxes on high polluters, emissions could be cut and British farmers could compete with post-Brexit imports.
But new tax could also increase the price of red meat further. Mr Eustice said that prices will increase by 10 per cent over the next five years, according to the government’s own modelling. He said that restructuring the £3.5 billion EU agricultural subsidies will allow farmers to produce higher welfare and food which is better for the environment over the next seven years. But he said: ‘Beyond that, you then start to move into the realms of things like carbon taxes. But we need to do the thinking about it now.’
And Boris Johnson has likened climate change to the Roman Empire, warning that our modern civilisation could topple if the world does not make progress on dealing with climate change. The Prime Minister’s words came as he landed in Rome last night for the G20 summit.
Mr Johnson said that being in Rome should serve as a reminder that societies can go backwards as well as forwards. He said unless the world works together to tackle climate change then our civilisation will suffer. Comparing climate change to an opponent and using a football analogy, he went on to say that humanity is ‘5-1 down’ at half-time against global warming.
The government’s planned carbon taxation system would come into force after 2027, when the Brexit transition period for agricultural subsidies will have ended.
Mr Eustice said carbon border taxes will also be brought in with the purpose of encouraging countries like Australia to handle their greenhouse gas emissions. He said that if other countries in the world did not do their bit to reduce emissions then it would have to be reflected in international trade.
Mr Eustice confirmed that the Treasury and business department are working together on the issue. It is all based on moving towards carbon emissions trading first in the UK agriculture sector.
Farmers in the UK have said the government is ‘undermining’ efforts to make more sustainable food in its trade deals with New Zealand and Australia. Minette Batters, the president of the National Farmers’ Union, said that the UK is opening its doors for significant extra imports. She said these imports may not be produced to the same standards which could harm British farming and food production in the UK. ‘
Mr Eustice says that trade deals may lead to increased imports but will displace others from the EU. He says that agricultural imports would only have quota-free tariffs in over 15 years and that consumer preferences might change to high-welfare British produce during that time.
Mr Eustice said people should not have to go vegan, but should eat less meat of better quality. He also says that restaurants should make it clearer on their menus where their food is from and how it has been produced.
An NFU spokesperson said: ‘British farmers produce some of the most sustainable meat and dairy products in the world – greenhouse gas emissions from UK beef production are less than half the global average and UK milk production is even lower. A carbon tax will not have the desired effect if it is implemented in the UK alone. It is essential that any tax is internationally recognised, otherwise UK farmers will be put at a competitive disadvantage, outpriced by food imports with a higher carbon footprint. Any carbon pricing policy needs to include opportunities for farm businesses to benefit, not just be penalised, otherwise we could see adverse effects where domestic food production is reduced at a time when access to local, sustainable and affordable food is more important than ever. A tax also doesn’t take into account the carbon that is sequestered and stored on UK farms. Taking carbon out of the atmosphere is a key part of the government’s net zero plan, and as land-based businesses, farmers are in a better position than most to deliver these important greenhouse gas removals.’
Original source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk