Wurst Idea Ever? Germany to Tax Sausages to Fight Climate Change

BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 19: A visitor holds a Thuringian rostbratwurst pork sausage with mustard sandwich at the 2018 International Green Week (Internationale Gruene Woche) agricultural trade fair on January 19, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The International Green Week is among the world's biggest agricultural trade fairs and brings together …
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German legislators have proposed raising the sales tax on meat from seven percent to 19 percent to fight climate change and improve animal welfare.

Research has shown that greenhouse gas emissions from livestock account for a higher percentage of total global emissions than the world’s 1.2 billion automobiles, a fact underscored by some German Greens who are pushing for higher meat taxes,

A United Nations report from 2012 found that the earth’s cattle population generates more carbon dioxide than automobiles, planes, and all other forms of transport combined. Moreover, the cow pies they deposit and the wind they break produce a third of the world’s methane emissions, considered 20 times more detrimental to the environment.

According to Germany’s Federal Statistics Office, slaughterhouses in Germany killed 29.4 million pigs, cows, sheep, goats and horses during the first six months of 2019. During this period, Germany produced 3.9 million tons of meat, led by pork, the primary ingredient in German sausages.

“I favor abolishing the VAT reduction for meat and using it (the increased revenues) instead for more animal welfare,” said Greens agriculture spokesman, Friedrich Ostendorff.

The idea of raising meat taxes would be to reduce livestock numbers — as well as their gaseous output — by discouraging people from eating meat.

Last June, Germany’s Green party vowed to ban industrial farming to reduce global warming if it ever were to come to power.

The measure was proposed by Katrin Goering-Eckardt, the party’s leader in the Germany parliament, as part of a massive €100 billion project to finance climate initiatives.

Even prior to this, in 2013, the Green party had sought to launch a weekly, meatless “veggie day,” a project that reportedly failed to garner much support from ordinary citizens.

Recalling this fiasco, Christian Lindner, the leader of the pro-business Free Democrats, warned last June that the Greens “dream of a meat-less country.”

“Whoever wants to be vegan is free to do so, but the rest of us shouldn’t be banned from eating our schnitzel,” Mr Lindner said.

Germany is not alone in proposing meat tax hikes to combat global warming.

In March of 2018, a New York Times op-ed put forward the idea of a special tax on the beef industry to compensate for the alleged damage Big Beef has caused to the environment by provoking climate change.

In his article titled “The Case for a Carbon Tax on Beef,” Richard Conniff contended that it is time to break off “our collective love affair with beef” because the cattle industry “has a larger impact on the environment than that of any other meat or dairy product.”

Mr. Conniff in turn confessed that he got the idea for a special beef tax from the French, which is unsurprising to those who follow the way the French tend to solve their problems.

In May 2018, former President Barack Obama warned the world that meat consumption was causing a dramatic rise in dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

“People aren’t as familiar with the impact of cows and methane,” Obama said at a food innovation summit in Milan, adding that “as people want to increase more meat consumption, that in turn is spiking the growth of greenhouse emissions coming out of the agricultural sector.”

The growing demand for beef as people get wealthier is contributing to global warming, Obama said, alluding to the amounts of methane gas emitted by cow herds.

“No matter what, we are going to see an increase in meat consumption,” Obama said, pointing to developing economies in China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. More advanced countries, Obama said, would have to teach people to “have a smaller steak” and explore ways to diminish their meat intake.


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