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Government paper says ramping up price of ‘high-carbon foods’ could ‘help people eat sustainably’ 

Now Boris could slap an eco tax on your MEAT: Government paper says ramping up price of ‘high-carbon foods’ could ‘help people eat sustainably’

  • Model for a tax on ‘high-carbon foods’ was drawn up for the Government
  • Details were later removed from the Government website after mistake
  • Shoppers could be given vegan recipes when buying new pots and pans
  • Other suggestions included cooking lessons for children without using meat 


A meat tax should be brought in to tackle climate change and ‘help everyone eat more sustainably’, experts have told the Government.

A model for a tax on ‘high-carbon foods’ was drawn up for ministers exploring ways to tackle rising global temperatures.

Other solutions included increasing the ‘relative availability’ of plant-based food and providing children with ‘sustainable defaults’ in schools, according to the document published by the Business department’s Behavioural Insights Unit, known as the ‘nudge unit’.

The details were later removed from the Government’s website, with the Business department claiming they were uploaded by mistake when approached by the Telegraph.

Shoppers could be given vegan recipes with new pots and pans and students could be offered cooking classes that avoid high-carbon foods, if the Government follows through with the recommendations.

A model for a tax on ‘high-carbon foods’ was drawn up for ministers exploring ways to tackle rising global temperatures (file image)

It also called for taxes on flying, with business flights blasted as an ‘immoral indulgence’.

A Government spokesman assured Britons the suggestions were part of a research paper rather than official policy.

A number of options were included for introducing the meat levy – including a ‘producer or retailer-facing tax’ or a charge for beef and sheep farmers as well as milk producers. 

It read: ‘Effort to win “hearts and minds” may be better spent building public support for bold policy, such as a producer-facing carbon tax on ruminant products.

Farming groups have slammed the suggestions, claiming the tax could hit businesses at a time when profits are already low.

James Rebanks, a farmer and author of a book on sustainability, said the tax was a ‘massively stupid idea’.

Farming groups have slammed the suggestions, claiming the tax could hit businesses at a time when profits are already low (file image)

Farming groups have slammed the suggestions, claiming the tax could hit businesses at a time when profits are already low (file image)

He suggested a tax on processed foods instead and called the suggestion a ‘stunt’ that would penalise his farm.

Hannah Dillon, at Zero Carbon, which advocates for carbon taxes, said the tax would subject British farmers to competition from environmentally-damaging imports.

Stuart Roberts, of the National Farmers’ Union, said the paper didn’t take into account the tax’ affect on British farming. 

And Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, said farmers in his constituency could go out of business if the tax is introduced.

A number of options were included for introducing the meat levy - including a 'producer or retailer-facing tax' or a charge for beef and sheep farmers as well as milk producers (file image)

A number of options were included for introducing the meat levy – including a ‘producer or retailer-facing tax’ or a charge for beef and sheep farmers as well as milk producers (file image)

He said it would ‘not only hit farming’ but would ‘devastate communities’.

The nudge unit is the same group that suggested 2018’s sugar tax, which raised £336million in the 2020 fiscal year.      

The Government said: ‘This was an academic research paper, not government policy. We have no plans to dictate consumer behaviour in this way. Our net zero strategy published yesterday contained no such plans.’

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