Results show that external greenhouse gas costs are highest for conventional and organic animal-based products (146% and 71% surcharge on producer price level), followed by conventional dairy products (91% surcharge) and lowest for organic plant-based products (6% surcharge). The large difference of relative external climate costs between food categories as well as the absolute external climate costs of the agricultural sector imply the urgency for policy measures that close the gap between current market prices and the true costs of food.
If the resulting costs are addressed by economic policies in line with common economic theory, they would enable agricultural externalities to be internalized according to the polluter-pays principle and at the same time strengthen sustainable consuming behavior. Pricing of food that includes environmental and social costs would thus also significantly contribute to fair market conditions, and simultaneously to climate change mitigation.
Pieper, M., Michalke, A. & Gaugler, T. Calculation of external climate costs for food highlights inadequate pricing of animal products. Nat Commun 11, 6117 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19474-6