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Accounting for foods’ nutritional value when implementing a climate tax on food
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

A growing and increasingly more affluent world population leads to an increase in food demand putting pressure on the planet’s natural resources and contributing to anthropogenic climate change. At the same time, a large part of our population suffers from nutrition related non-communicable diseases. There is an urgent need to develop a food system which provides healthy and sustainable food for all. An increase of public policies and regulations within this area has been deemed important in this quest. However, climate impact and nutrient content can have an inverse correlation, if a climate tax which includes nutrition would be implemented this would need attention so that an increased consumption of unhealthy foods with low climate impact does not increase. Aim: The aim of this project is to evaluate different methods for accounting for food’s nutritional value when implementing a climate tax on food in order to avoid the risk of environmental fiscal policies leading to less healthy eating. The focus is on the use of nutrient indices, which concerns the characterizing of foods based on an assessment of their nutrient quality. The objective is to create a quantitative scoring arrangement based on nutritional information resulting in a composite index which could potentially be used to account for foods’ nutritional content when implementing a climate tax on food. Other methods to account for foods’ nutritional value in a climate tax are also evaluated such as Nyckelhålet, complementing the climate tax with a tax on single nutrients or food items or subsidies on healthy foods. Method: The different methods were evaluated according to the following criteria; capturing of ‘healthiness’, cost to implement the methods, practical concerns during implementation, transparency, credibility and scientific base, risk of driving undesirable consumption, risk for fraud and acceptance of the method among the general public. To investigate the possibility to use nutrient indices as a base for a health- and climate related food tax, a nutrient index applicable to Swedish conditions was designed. This index was called Swedish Nutrient Index [SNI] and when including foods climate impact, it was called Swedish Nutrient Index in relation to Climate Impact [SNICI]. Findings: Of the evaluated methods, nutrient indices capture ‘healthiness’ best but would be more complicated and costly to implement than using Nyckelhålet or a tax on single food items or nutrients. The acceptance and credibility might be higher for nutrient indices and Nyckelhålet than for the other methods and these methods would most likely lead to less unwanted consumption since a wider range of food items will be affected by the method. To create a nutrient index suitable for Sweden, like SNICI, is possible. It’s important that the method is objective, transparent and scientifically justifiable, something that can be difficult as there are so many choices to be made when designing a nutrient index. Conclusion: Nutrient indices captures ‘healthiness’ well and could be a useful yet complicated tool to include nutrition in a climate tax on food. When putting nutrition in relation to climate impact it is important that undesirable, unhealthy consumption does not appear caused by the fact that some foods high nutritional value can get offset by its large climate impact and that some foods with low nutritional value can get favoured if they have a small climate impact. Other methods for including food’s nutritional value such as Nyckelhålet, taxing single nutrients, single food items and/or subsidizing healthy food items could be a preferable option, mainly as it would be easier to implement. However, before introducing such a method in combination with a climate tax, a thorough assessments on the risk of undesirable consumption, health effects, practical implementation, cost, political- and public acceptance, scientific evidence, credibility and transparency would be needed. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , 38 p.
Series
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 2017/15
Keyword [en]
Sustainable Development, Nutrient profiling, climate tax, Sweden, Nutrition, Greenhouse gas emission
National Category
Natural Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-324331OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-324331DiVA: diva2:1109659
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
Presentation
2017-06-01, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 11:00 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-06-15 Created: 2017-06-14 Last updated: 2017-06-15Bibliographically approved

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