Weekly Overview: Would a New Tax Make Consumers Greener?

18 November 2013, at 11:09pm

GLOBAL - There are signs that the European Union is considering the introduction of a new value-added tax to encourage its citizen to make more sustainable and environmentally friendly choices. The national pig industry body in the UK has put out a paper to explain how the sector is supporting efforts to reduce food waste without the risks of introducing catastrophic animal diseases. Classical Swine Fever outbreaks have been reported in Colombia and Russia while Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea continues to spread in the US.

Whatever your opinion on the impact of human activity on climate change, the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan on the Philippines recently should focus our attention on making every attempt to reduce our environmental footprint as well as supporting the people there to rebuild their lives and businesses there in any way we can.

Taxes and a new system of value-added tax (VAT) could be used in the EU to stimulate sustainable agriculture, food production and consumption.

The concept would see consumers directed towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly products through taxation.

To ensure that the environmental impact of products is reflected in their costs, a new study published by the European Commission puts forward recommendations for a system of green VAT based on life cycle assessment (LCA).

This new economic tool would encourage sustainable production and consumption, the researchers claim.

The paper, 'Towards stronger measures for sustainable consumption and production policies: proposal of a new fiscal framework based on a life cycle approach', by C. De Camillis and M. Goralczyk and published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment proposes a system whereby VAT, calculated based on the environmental impact of the whole life cycle of the product, is used to guide consumers towards more sustainable, environmentally-friendly products.

The UK's National Pig Association has set out in a position paper how the pig industry can (and does) contribute to making food production more sustainable by reducing food waste but without increasing the risk of serious animal diseases.

NPA adds that the European Union will not relax its zero-tolerance legislation banning the cannibalistic feeding of swill to pigs, and even if it did, no sensible commercial pig producer would use such a risk-laden product.

In overview of the European Union pig industry, the German meat association reports that pig numbers are down in the region, particularly for the breeding herd, indicating further declines in pig meat output in the region ahead. Exports are stable, imports continue to fall and the market appears to have seen the peak in pig meat prices.

Finally, new outbreaks of Classical Swine Fever have been reported in Russia and Colombia, and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea continues to spread in the US.