Reduction of meat consumption bill

Please find our parliamentary bill below. Submitted by the Left Party.

Swedish Parliament
Reduction of Meat Consumption Bill

Jens Holm et al.                2010/11: V205


Contents

1.   Recommendations
2.   Background
3.   Goal: reduced consumption of animal food products
4.   Action plan for reduced consumption
5.   Phase-out of subsidies to the meat industry

6.   Incentives for reduced meat consumption
7.   Vegetarian Mondays

8.   Green public procurement  

 

 

1.    Recommendations

(1)     The Riksdag [Swedish Parliament] hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Parliamentary Bill that a new national goal should be adopted for the reduction of total meat consumption, namely a reduction of 25 per cent from the current total by year 2020.

(2)     The Riksdag hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Bill that an action plan should be developed for the purpose of reducing the climate impact of the entire chain of food production, including animal food products.

 (3)    The Riksdag hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Bill that Sweden should strive for the establishment of a final date for the complete phase-out of subsidies to the meat and dairy industries, which are counterproductive.

 (4)    The Riksdag hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Bill that Sweden should strive to bring about an end to the dumping of surplus food products by the European Union in developing countries.

 (5)    The Riksdag hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Bill that a public inquiry should be established to consider the feasibility of economic incentives for reducing the climate and other environmental impacts of the entire chain of food production, including animal products.

 (6)    The Riksdag hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Bill that the Government should support efforts by Sweden’s municipalities to encourage vegetarian food habits, for example by designating one day of the week as a vegetarian day.

 

2.    Background

         Since the 1950s, worldwide consumption of meat products has increased by over 500 per cent. If nothing is done, meat consumption in 2050 will be twice that of the world total in 1999. According to the FAO report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, the animal food products industry accounts for 18 per cent of total worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases. The Swedish animal food products industry emits roughly 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, nearly as much as the total from all private cars in Sweden (source: Greenhouse gas emissions from Swedish consumption of meat, milk and eggs 1990 and 2005. SIK Rapport 794/2009, p. 26). According to the same report, emissions from the Swedish animal food products sector increased by 22 per cent between 1990 and 2005. The scientists who authored the report conclude that, if we want a sustainable development of the Earth’s climate, we must eat less meat.

               According to the above-noted FAO report, the livestock sector is one of the biggest causes of declines in biological diversity, as it uses 30 per cent of the Earth’s total land surface and 70 per cent of all agriculture land. The livestock sector is also one of the main reasons for the destruction of tropical forest. Fully 70 per cent of Latin America’s former forest area has been converted to grazing land. Tropical forest is also being destroyed for the cultivation of animal fodder products, not least including soybeans, which are then exported for such purposes as meat production in the European Union.

               At the same time that much of the world is suffering from lack of water, the food production sector is overexploiting water resources. According to FAO, the livestock sector uses over eight per cent of the world’s freshwater resources and accounts for a large portion of their increasing exploitation. Much more water is used for meat production than for the production of vegetable food products. Between 400 and 3000 litres of freshwater are required to produce one kilogram of vegetable products, while the corresponding requirement for a kilogram of poultry meat is 6000 litres and for beef it is 15,000 litres (source: Stockholm International Water Institute, More Nutrition Per Drop, 2004). Thus, it is clear that we should eat more vegetables and less meat in order to conserve water resources.

               By international standards, Sweden is per capita a large consumer of animal food products. Our impact on the climate far exceeds a sustainable level. All sectors of the society must therefore assume responsibility for the global climate. We are certain that the Swedish people are prepared to reduce the climate impact that is related to their food consumption, if they are provided with suitable means to act rationally on behalf of a sustainable climate. According to a 2009 report of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the title of which translates as A Genus Perspective on the General Public’s Knowledge and Attitudes Regarding Climate Change, over half of Swedish citizens are prepared to reduce their meat consumption on behalf of the climate. Among women the figure is 69 per cent, and a significant proportion of them have already reduced their meat consumption. The Riksdag and the Government have a decisive role to play in making it easier for Swedes to continue reducing their climate impact by means of ”climate-smart” eating.

 

3.    Goal: reduced consumption of animal food products

         Meat consumption in Sweden increased by more than 50 per cent from 1990 to 2005. This sharp increase in consumption resulted in greenhouse gas emissions totalling more than 2.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents; but that increase is not reflected in Swedish emission statistics, because it is due to imports of meat products. Emissions per capita increased by over 50 per cent during the same period. The increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to increased Swedish meat consumption in 2005 corresponded to nearly 20 per cent of the total emitted by all Swedish cars during that year (source: Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, Greenhouse gas emissions from Swedish consumption of meat, milk and eggs, 1990 and 2005. SIK Rapport 794/2009).

               As noted by a Swedish public inquiry on climate issues (Klimatberedningen. SOU 2008:24), there are at present no incentives specifically devised to induce the agricultural sector to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. A responsible approach would be to adopt a national goal of reduced meat consumption. A goal to reduce meat consumption from the current level by 25 per cent no later than year 2020 should therefore be adopted. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves the adoption of that goal.

 

4.    Action plan for reduced meat consumption

         In order to attain the goal of 25 per cent reduced meat consumption by 2020, an action plan should be developed for the purpose of reducing the climate impact of the entire chain of food production, including animal products. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves the development of such a plan.

 

5.    Phase-out of subsidies to the meat industry

         In a 2007 report of the Left Party, the title of which translates as The Livestock Industry and Climate — The EU Makes Bad Worse, we note that the European Union supports the Swedish meat and dairy industries with ca. SEK 30 billion [ca. EUR 3 billion] annually with so-called interventions and direct subsidies. In addition, the EU provides SEK 400 million [ca. EUR 40 million] to support the marketing of various animal food products in order to increase their sales. Sweden should strive for the establishment of a final date for the complete phase-out of such counterproductive subsidies to the meat and dairy industries. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves the establishment of such a deadline.

               Sweden should also strive to bring about an end to the dumping of surplus food products by the European Union in developing countries. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves of that objective.

 

6.    Incentives for reduced meat consumption

         Probably the most effective method for reducing the use of something that is harmful is to put a price on it. In a coming edition of the journal Climatic Change, three scientists at Chalmers University of Technology — Fredrik Hedenus, Stefan Wirsenius and Kristina Molin — argue that a tax on animal food products can be an effective method for reducing emissions from the agricultural sector. The Left Party proposes the establishment of a public inquiry into the feasibility of economic incentives for reducing the climate and other environmental impacts of the entire chain of food production, including animal food products. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves such a public inquiry.

 

7.    Vegetarian Mondays

         Slightly over a year ago, the Belgian city of Ghent introduced ”Donderdag Veggiedag” — Vegetarian Thursday. Every Thursday in Ghent, vegetarian food is the main alternative in municipal dining facilities, with meat dishes available for those who prefer them. Also provided by the city are large numbers of free maps indicating the locations of vegetarian restaurants. Residents are taught how to prepare vegetarian dishes, and reduced meat consumption is promoted in a variety of ways. This initiative is part of a general effort by Ghent’s political leaders to take all possible measures to reduce the city’s climate impact. Reduced meat consumption is an important part of that effort.

               A growing number of cities around the world are now following Ghent’s example with similar local initiatives for reduced meat consumption. Sao Paulo, San Francisco, Cape Town, Bremen and Helsinki are among the cities whose political leaders have set aside one day of the week for a special focus on vegetarian food. In Sweden, the city of Örebro has introduced a weekly vegetarian day in some of its schools. Several other Swedish cities are preparing similar initiatives. Several grassroots campaigns have been started, two examples being ”Meat-Free Mondays” in Sweden (www.kottfrimandag.se) and the United Kingdom (www.meatfreemondays.co.uk). The Government should support efforts by Sweden’s municipalities to encourage vegetarian food habits, for example by designating one day of the week as a vegetarian day. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves of such a policy.

 

8.   Green public procurement

         Annual purchases by the Swedish public sector total approximately SEK 500 billion, and a large portion of that amount is for food. Public sector purchasing provides an excellent means to influence national consumption patterns, and that sector should be encouraged to purchase more fruit and vegetables, less meat.

 

     
Submitted on this date for the Left Party by:

Jens Holm     

Torbjörn Björlund               

Hans Linde                         

Jonas Sjöstedt

Siv Holma

Kent Persson


Stockholm
20 October 2010

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