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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Taxing food consumption to reduce environmental impacts-Identification of synergies and goal conflicts

Moberg, Emma; Sall, Sarah; Hansson, Per-Anders; Roos, Elin


This study analysed the environmental impacts of taxation on Swedish food consumption and sought to identify potential synergies and goal conflicts between environmental aspects. This was done by analysing various taxation scenarios to reduce environmental impacts of food, including taxation based on: climate impact; a score based on weighting of several environmental impacts; and adjusted rates of value-added tax (VAT).A net decrease in food consumption was seen for most taxation scenarios, resulting in reduced burdens for climate change and most other environmental categories. An exception was found for a scenario simulating reduced VAT rates for plant-based products, where a net increase of food consumption was seen, resulting in an increased burden for all environmental categories. Many of the scenarios resulted in a decrease in beef consumption, and hence a decline in pasture use. This is positive from a global perspective by limiting expansion of agricultural land, but on regional level in Sweden it could cause a goal conflict with maintaining biodiversity-rich semi-natural pastures. To avoid this, beef production on semi-natural pastures could be further incentivised by production-side measures. With regard to biodiversity loss, the overall burden could increase if taxation leads to an increase in products from biodiverse regions.


Food; Climate tax; Value-added tax; Environmental impacts; Synergies; Goal conflicts

Published in

Food Policy
2021, Volume: 101, article number: 102090