Denmark, having apparently learned nothing about how it’s own people respond to incentives, wants to “encourage ethical behavior by taxing beef to reduce its consumption and CO2 impacts,” as reported in this Washington Post article and elsewhere.
They tried this in 2011 with a fat tax – had to repeal it a year later.
The net effect of passing this proposal will almost certainly be an increase in CO2 emissions. Folks will certainly shift away from purchasing beef in Danish stores and restaurants. But the fat tax experience – as well as the deposit-refund “savings bargain” experience – show that Danes behavioral changes will be to increase freezer size and trips to Germany to purchase beef products there.
What’s the deposit-refund “savings bargain,” you ask? Denmark has a deposit-refund system for cans. Germany does too. But Danes buying in Germany can avoid paying the deposit by showing a Danish ID – with the additional wrinkle that the can is no longer recyclable through either system – or rather, the estimated 6-700 million cans that the 5.5 million Danes are estimated to bring across the border now are much more likely to end in landfills.
Add to that all the gas, car emissions, traffic, road accidents, time loss and so on that accompany these trips to Germany and you can sense how likely it is that a little tweaking of the beef tax is going to reduce CO2 emissions…
I guess this shows the importance of global action. However, much depends on the way they implement it. If they charge the tax at the border as well perhaps the leakage is somewhat less. I know we live in the EU and we have free transport but they seem to get away with it with cars too. And let’s face it. We already are making these shopping trips (me included). I wonder how many extra trips this is going to generate.
I find it interesting that there is no tax mentioned on pork. Just because its impact is less in co2 terms or because of the industry size….
I don’t think they will impose a tax at the border – first it would be fought at the EU level – but maybe also they would like to be able to have more beef too. As for more trips – depends on freezer size I guess – and the bump up in pork prices from increasing demand…
Doesn’t it just demonstrate once more – as Maarten mentioned it, too – that such measures will never be any successful, and likely do more harm than good, if you don’t make arrangements at larger levels, at least EU? While I think this is especially important for policy in small countries like Denmark where the next border is always close, national policies are rather inappropriate anyway as it is becoming easier for almost everybody to practically buy everything from everywhere all over the world.
LikeLiked by 1 person