Publication: Impact on Chronic Disease of a GHG Tax on Food and Drink

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 12:15

A new publication in BMJ Open by Oxford researchers looks at the possible impact on chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, if the UK were to introduce a tax on greenhouse gas emissions on food and drink.

Read the full article in BMJ Open:

Assessing the impact on chronic disease of incorporating the societal cost of greenhouse gases into the price of food: an econometric and comparative risk assessment modelling study, Adam D M Briggs, Ariane Kehlbacher, Richard Tiffin, Tara Garnett, Mike Rayner, Peter Scarborough, BMJ Open 2013;3:e003543 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003543

Such a tax would be designed to reduce emissions from agriculture through consumer behaviour. Since some of the biggest emitters in the food sector are also the culprits for health problems, most notably red and processed meats, there is the possibility that this kind of tax might have health as well as environmental benefits.

This study modelled the effect of a UK GHG emission food tax on health, using two scenarios: the first taxes food groups with GHG emissions greater than average and the second taxes high-GHG emission food groups and subsidises those with low emissions to create a revenue-neutral scenario.

The authors showed that internalising the costs of GHG emissions in the food system has the potential to reduce GHG emissions, generate significant revenue and save lives.

They conclude that "our results show that taxation offers a possible method to reduce GHG emissions, improve public health and raise revenue simultaneously".

Photo of burger from Wikimedia Commons

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