Emissions labelling on food and 0% tax on fruit and veg are vital to stem climate change, finds new report
1 June 2023
Report highlights policy tools to shift Europeans towards more climate-friendly diets
The EU-funded Smart Protein project has today published a briefing document outlining the measures that the EU needs to adopt in order to shift more Europeans to a plant-based diet.
The measures include putting labels on food products to show how sustainable they are – such as their carbon footprint, water usage and transport miles – and encouraging more EU countries to remove the VAT on fruit and vegetables. Currently, only four EU member states have a 0% rate.
Other policy tools outlined in the “Smart Protein Policy Brief” include promoting plant-based foods in public institutions, such as schools, hospitals and local government buildings.
“Animal agriculture is responsible for about 17% of carbon emissions in the EU,1 2 so it is vital that the EU focuses on implementing policies that promote more climate-friendly food,” Juliette Tronchon, ProVeg International’s Senior Policy and Public Affairs Specialist and co-author of the report, said.
“Animal agriculture also contributes to lifestyle diseases, global hunger, and animal suffering so replacing animal products with plant-based and cultivated foods offers the EU a multi-pronged solution to these problems,” Tronchon added. ProVeg International is one of 33 partners in the Smart Protein project drawn from industry, research and academia.
In addition, alternative proteins lose out where research is concerned. The €32 million of funding earmarked for sustainable protein under the EU’s Horizon Europe programme is only a fraction of the programme’s current budget of €95.5 billion.
Promotion of plant-based foods is also an issue that needs to be addressed in the EU.
“Where the EU’s agriculture promotion policy is concerned, healthy, plant-based alternative products are barely mentioned, whereas the livestock sector, with its’ high carbon emissions, high water usage and pollution of waterways, is amply funded,” Falk Hemsing, International Policy Officer at ProVeg and co-author of the report, said.
The report calls on the European Commission to progress on policies covering four key areas: labelling and marketing, public food procurement, VAT rates and subsidies.
Specifically, they are:
- Launch a front-of-pack sustainability labelling scheme for food products;
- Establish an EU-wide definition of the terms “vegan” and “vegetarian”;
- Allow plant-based products to use conventional meat and dairy names such as “milk” or “cheese”;
- Include plant-based foods in the EU’s criteria for sustainable public procurement;
- Make nutritious, fortified plant-based products eligible for organic certification.
- Ensure EU-wide VAT rates for plant-based products and animal-sourced foods are equal and encourage more member states to introduce 0% VAT rates for plant-based whole foods;
- Revise the EU’s current agriculture-promotion policy; and
- Increase R&D funding for plant-based innovation.
“As stated in the Farm to Fork Strategy, alternative proteins, such as plant, microbial, or marine proteins, is one of key areas of research for a sustainable, healthy and inclusive food system,” Cindy Schoumacher, Policy Officer at the European Commission DG Research and Innovation, said.
“The aim is to stimulate food consumption that is sustainable in both health and environmental aspects, highlighting the importance of plant-based diets. Smart Protein is providing key information to fill knowledge gaps on alternative proteins and contribute to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal,” she added.
Notes to Editors
For media inquiries, email Falk Hemsing or Juliette Tronchon at [email protected]
About the Smart Protein project
The EU-funded Smart Protein project is addressing the challenge of ensuring global access to healthy diets from a sustainable food system through future-proofed protein supply chains which have a positive impact on the bio-economy, environment, biodiversity, food and nutrition security and consumer trust.
About ProVeg International
ProVeg is an international food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultivated alternatives.
ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.
ProVeg has permanent-observer status with the UNFCCC, is accredited for UNEA, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award. ProVeg also has Observer Status at the IPCC.
|↑1||Bellarby, J., R. Tirado, A. Leip, et al. (2013): Livestock greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation potential in Europe. Global Change Biology 19 3–18. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02786.x|
|↑2||Report: Farming for Failure – Greenpeace European Unit|