The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change is calling for a climate tax to be put on meat by 2025.
Comprised of ten Royal Colleges of medicines and nursing, the British Medical Association and the Lancet, the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) is calling for a climate tax on food with a heavy environmental impact.
According to the group, the climate crisis cannot be solved without drastic action to reduce the consumption of high-emission foods such as meat and dairy products. They say this should come into effect by 2025, unless the industry takes voluntary action on the matter.
‘Addressing our food system’
People in developed nations already eat too much meat, and in the UK only one in three eat the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. Therefore, the Alliance’s new report makes a series of recommendations including a swift end to buy-one-get-one-free offers for unhealthy food that is not only damaging health but the environment too.
“We can’t reach our goals without addressing our food system,” said Kristin Bash, who leads the Faculty of Public Health’s food group and was a co-author of the UKHACC report. “The climate crisis isn’t something we should see as far in the future. It’s time to take these issues seriously now.”
‘Collapse in biodiversity’
The UKHACC are also calling for public information campaigns on diet to include climate messages, for labels on food to reveal its environmental impact, and for the £2bn spent every year on catering in schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons to meet minimum environmental standards.
Henry Dimbleby, who leads the independent group developing England’s National Food Strategy, said: “Covid-19, painful though it is, could pale into insignificance compared to the turbulence created by climate change and the collapse in biodiversity.
“Healthcare professionals have an important role in shaping our diets, and I am very pleased to see their recommendations cover not only our health, but that of our planet too.”
Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, said UKHACC’s recommendation of environmental labelling on food was important. “Today you can walk into a shop and buy something with an environmental impact many times higher than another food, and have no idea you have done so.”
Vibrant Vegan Co plan to install vegan hot meal vending machines across 100 NHS hospitals, the first having arrived in Hillingdon hospital last month.
This comes after YouGov poll of healthcare professionals for UKHACC found two-thirds agreeing that environmentally friendly diets can also improve your health, while 40% had already changed their own eating habits due to environmental concerns.
‘We each have a responsibility’
Prof Andrew Goddard, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “It is clear that if we are to avoid dangerous global warming we must start to reconsider our attitudes to food. We each have a responsibility and an ability to make a difference as individuals.”
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