Investors around the world are beginning to invest in ‘faux meat’ businesses, out of fear that a global push will allow leaders to force meat production to decline via emissions taxes. The reason for the move is simple to understand; the Paris Climate Agreement has set numbers that outstrip our current ability to reduce emissions without suffering negative consequences as a society, so why not tax things like meat, which produce emissions, and which everybody needs?
In a move more disturbing, socially ‘conscious’ activist investors are attempting to force those who currently produce meat for consumption to utilize a ‘shadow price’, which is designed to include the cost of externalities, in order to estimate the future cost of meat production, which would make the price of meat on the shelves much more expensive. The end result will be a world in which real meat is a delicacy, enjoyed only by the wealthy.
As the market currently stands, the Food & Agriculture Organization estimates that the future of meat production is good, projecting consumption of meat will grow 73 percent by 2050, thanks mostly to the growth in meat demand from China and India, two countries with large populations that are becoming more and more wealthy and less reliant on vegetarian diets.
According to the investor group FAIRR, which stands for Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return, this could result in as much as $1.6 trillion in environmental costs and health costs for the world’s economy by 2050. That number may seem terrifying, but to put it into perspective, that’s about the amount of money that California’s pension systems have in the form of unfunded liabilities.
There has been talk across the European world in particular about regulating meat much the way that tobacco and other products are currently regulated. Adding cost to tobacco, sugar, and even carbon has been done to ensure that people are consuming less of these things, ostensibly for their own good, as well as for the good of the environment. After all, according to recent estimates, greenhouse gas emissions related to the raising of livestock currently account for 14.5 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and surely we could make that number drop by making it so that only the wealthy can eat meat.
Thankfully, measures related to artificially inflating the price of meat or barring meat from production have not garnered the support that taxes related to sugar, carbon, or even tobacco have managed to gain. However, they are being brought up with greater frequency, and though they continue to lose thanks to outcry from the general public, it is not impossible to foresee a future in which leftists in the international community manage to make it much more expensive to get hold of real, naturally-grown meat.
As the world still has many who are hungry or starving, even in rich countries, it would seem that this sort of taxation scheme is running directly in opposition to the idea that everyone should be able to eat an affordable meal. Indeed, while governments spend billions on the idea of making food more widely available to their citizenry, it is McDonald’s, with their low-priced cheeseburgers, that has provided the cheapest source of affordable calories. Imagine that; a corporation managed to help provide more food for the hungry, and did so in spite of government intervention.
Many on the left are suggesting that meat grown or produced in laboratories could easily replace the global market for meat grown naturally, but that simply doesn’t make sense; lab-grown meat currently is not capable of producing meat in the same quantities as is demanded, and the question of taste and of long-term impact from consumption of lab-grown meat is still one that needs to be understood and answered.
Is there a future where people will stop eating beef and chicken in favor of substitutes grown in laboratories? Perhaps there is. But it is far in the future, and people still see the value in eating real meat that is affordable.
Perhaps, instead of working to bow to demands from leftists who hate the idea that plebes can eat the same meat they enjoy, it’s time that governments free markets and help to ensure that everyone can afford to purchase meat for their table and to maintain a stable diet without governments adding cost.