The Swedish Board of Agriculture is proposing a tax on meat to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food production. The carbon tax idea, which would mean meat would be more expensive in the shops for Swedes, has already been dismissed by government Finance Minister Anders Borg.
"I think you should be careful about how to use the tax system. We have a carbon tax and it works well," Borg told news agency TT and other Swedish journalists in Brussels where EU finance ministers meet today.
"We will make a record of climate policy after 2015 and we have already said that we are prepared to take away some of the exceptions contained in the carbon tax, because it's better the more unified it is. To then have a special arrangement in the meat area, I do not think is good," Borg says.
The Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) says meat consumption is increasing not only in Sweden but also in Europe and warns that the West must cut down on meat consumption.
According to the Board's report, which recommends introducing a carbon tax to consumers based on emissions caused by meat, consumption of meat in Sweden rose by 33 percent in the period 1980-2010 to 85 kilos of meat per person per year.
Consumption continued to grow in 2011 (87 kg per person), while the figures for 2012 are still being counted. Beef is the most popular choice of meat. Swedes eat almost more beef than any other nation in Europe and lie fourth in the world for beef consumption, only Luxembourg, Brazil, USA and Australia eats more beef.
In recent years, researchers have noted that the production of meat contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, and this trend must be reversed, says Sone Ekman from the Board of Agriculture.
"It takes a lot more resources to produce meat compared to vegetable-based foods. That it can lead to land reclaimation of the world's savannas and rainforests," he says to Swedish Radio news.
The authors of the report acknowledge the difficulties of implementing a carbon tax on meat.