A group of experts commissioned by the Ministry of Finance have proposed massively increasing taxes on the sale of meat, in a bid to make new taxation new green and eco-friendly.
According to Belgian newspaper Le Soir, experts have suggested raising VAT on meat from 6% to 12%, or even 21%. The impact of this decision, inevitably, would be to discourage the consumption of meat products, which have a much larger carbon footprint than many other types of food.
According to data from Statista, red meats have an extremely large carbon footprint as the rearing of cattle uses large amounts of feed and emits methane gases. One kilogram of beef produces an average of 99.48 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents. Poultry produced just 10 kilograms.
Some vegan activists and organisations are now calling for nations to adopt a “Plant Based Treaty”, ending all subsidies and incentives to the meat industry. Citing research papers by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate activists state that a switch to a global vegan diet could save 7.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
The experts advising the Ministry of Finance have said that the current price of meat is “significantly lower than its environmental impact.” The VAT on all foods, except luxury goods such as lobster, crab, crayfish, caviar, and oysters, is currently fixed at 6%. To adjust this rate of taxation to the environmental impact of the meat industry could mean nearly tripling the rate of tax.
Taxation going green
The economists based their suggestions off a recent study conducted in the Netherlands. When extrapolating the results to Belgium, the experts calculated that the tax could bring in €394-933 million, as well as external benefits of €108-272 million due to decreased environmental damages.
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There are also hopes that tax disincentives would reduce consumption, thereby leading to “long-term consumer health benefits.”
The green taxation proposals don’t stop at meat. Rather than adding to the tax burden, the experts also suggest greening tax revenues by removing incentives on company cars. The economists advocate for the gradual abolition of tax regimes for corporate cars.
The experts are not the first to suggest such a move. Last year, the rate of tax on these vehicles increased significantly. The Flemish government reserves the most generous incentives for electric vehicles. The advisors to the Ministry of Finance also propose creating green bonds, and environmentally responsible pension funds.