The Prime Minister of Finland has proposed lowering the tax on vegetables to promote the consumption of “climate-friendly” food. The concept aligns with research that points to vegan diets as the best for the environment.
Antti Rinne reiterated his commitment to sustainability as soon as he assumed office in June. In a letter addressed to the European public, Rinner acknowledged the public’s desire for policy-makers to “make decisions to save the future of humanity and our planet.”
“We want to show that political will – the most important resource needed to halt climate change – is a renewable resource and not about to run out,” he said, adding that “solving the climate crisis could be Europe’s next heroic act.”
Paths to Carbon-Neutrality
Rinne recently spoke with Yle Radio Suomi about his plans to tackle climate change.
The prime minister wants to make Finland carbon-neutral by 2035. He aims to achieve this by cutting transport emissions, updating energy production, and making sustainable food cheaper. People’s lifestyles will shift, he says, but not in a way that will negatively impact them.
“Let’s make vegetables a bit cheaper through taxation and leave meat as it is. That’s how we’ll guide [consumption],” Rinne explained, adding that effective policies include ones “where regular people’s day-to-day lives certainly change, but not for the worse.”
Altering taxes on food to boost sustainability is not a new concept. A report released earlier this year by Fitch Solutions Macro Research found that taxing red meat could have an “enormous” impact on climate change.
Diet and Climate Change
In September, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) identified meat as “the world’s most urgent problem.”
It said that humankind’s use of animals for food “has brought us to the verge of catastrophe.”
“The greenhouse gas footprint of animal agriculture rivals that that of every car, truck, bus, ship, airplane, and rocket ship combined,” UNEP added.
A study by Oxford University researchers — which is most comprehensive analysis of farming’s impact on the planet ever conducted — concluded that adopting a vegan diet is “the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use.”