Growth in agricultural productivity and expanding markets have made more food available to more people than ever before. The options available to the average consumer visiting a supermarket are richer and more varied than at any time in history. But this abundance comes at a cost to our health and the planet.
Obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are increasing significantly across the world, particularly in middle- and high-income countries.
Meanwhile, food production is a major contributor to climate change: agriculture (excluding land use change) accounts for 11 percent of global carbon emissions.
To achieve the Paris climate agreement’s emission reduction targets and try to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, nations will have to deploy creative new policies to limit carbon emissions on both the supply and demand sides.
A carbon tax on food, if done right, could help nations meet emission reduction targets while improving nutrition and public health. Researchers from IFPRI and the Oxford Martin School recently modeled the potential consequences and tradeoffs of levying carbon taxes on food.