Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

German agency meats out advice

Posted by Evan Herrnstadt on January 23, 2009

The EPA’s approximate German counterpart, the Federal Environmental Agency, recommended that citizens reduce their meat consumption and move toward a more Mediterranean diet.  The agency cited health reasons, but also noted the impact it would have on the nation’s carbon footprint.  It’ll be interesting to see if a broader information campaign emerges and to what degree it influences behavior.  For reference, Germans eat about two-thirds as much meat as the average consumer in America, France, and Spain as of 2002.

The major issues are the energy intensity of livestock production (lots of energy is wasted in processing plant matter using an animal’s digestive system) as well as the potent GHG emissions by the animals themselves:


I think making this information more prominent would be useful — even a small lifestyle change could make a substantial difference.  Still, I can’t imagine an American agency going after livestock farmers — even Oprah couldn’t get away with it.

H/T: Mark Bittman (great NYTimes food blog if you haven’t seen it).

3 Responses to “German agency meats out advice”

  1. Carlos Ferreira said

    Well, there’s been a lot of discussion about “cow fart taxes” in the US and elsewhere lately. Maybe it’s not just advices: maybe we do need a pricing mechanism to regulate consumption.

  2. George Krontiras said

    Wait a minute……let me get that strait….
    You actually propose a tax because of the fart of cows?!?!?!?!????
    So as to reduce the demand.
    Even if demand falls due to a change in diet, the price will fall too and attract some portion of demand back.

  3. Barry said

    move towards a Mediterranean means roughly more fish consumption, among other things. this directly clashes with Japan’s recent “Peak Fish” headline on BBC. instead of promoting less meat, they should be promoting less “flesh”. these simply are not enough animals in the world to keep eating them at a level people have gotten used to. most marine scientists would tell you EU fisheries are in rough shape, and nudges towards increased consumption should quickly doom the resource. and we all know about the wasted resources used to prop up the inefficient fishing industry.

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