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An Environmental Tax Towards More Sustainable Food: Empirical Evidence of the Consumption of Animal Products in France

Bonnet, Céline, Bouamra-Mechemache, Zohra, Corre, Tifenn
Ecological economics 2018 v.147 pp. 48-61
beef, carbon dioxide, eating habits, environmental impact, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, households, industry, issues and policy, ruminants, France
Agricultural production is among the industries with the highest impact on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, especially in the production of ruminant meats. Households can change their food consumption habits so as to consume less polluting products such as white meat or vegetable-based food. We analyze whether or not a CO2 equivalent (CO2-eq) tax policy in France can change household habits with respect to animal product purchases, and their environmental impact. Using two levels of a CO2-eq tax (€56 and €200 per tonne of CO2-eq) applied to the consumption of all animal products, only ruminant meats or only beef, we show that a high level of tax does not allow meeting the 20% objective threshold of GHG emissions reduction for 2020 since it would lead to a 6% decrease in GHG emissions only. Despite the weak effect of such a tax, the most efficient scenario would be to tax the consumption of beef only at a high level. Indeed, this tax policy would allow reaching a 3.2% decrease in GHG emissions, that represents 53% of the variation in GHG emissions when all products are taxed whereas it would only generate 12% of the household welfare damages.