The effectiveness and consequences of carbon taxes on U.S. food purchases: new research

New research published in the journal Food Policy examined the effectiveness and consequences of using carbon taxes on food purchases to contribute to the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) reduction target for 2025. The researchers found that “carbon taxes on food purchases decrease GHGEs from the agricultural and food sectors by 1.9 to 4.8 percent and generate up to $839 billion 2012 dollars social welfare gain per year due to avoided GHGEs-related external costs.” However, the authors also reported that “tradeoffs exist among climate, nutritional and distributional goals. Food instance, the most effective policy in reducing GHGs is regressive. Moreover, the quantity of health-promoting nutrients falls significantly in almost all scenarios.”

Based on these results, the authors concluded that, “the use of carbon taxes alone may not be the most effective way to reduce GHGEs from U.S. food purchases.” “[A]dditional policies, such as subsidies on less carbon intensive foods, may be needed to encourage consumers of all income level[s] to adopt more sustainable diets without increasing health and social inequalities.”

Citation: Tiboldo G, Boehm R, Shah F, et al. Taking the heat out of the U.S. food system. Food Policy (2022).

Bacon burger with beef patty on red wooden table

Published by greengrass50

My name is Christine McCullum-Gomez, PhD, RDN. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist with expertise in environmental nutrition, food and nutrition policy, food and nutrition security, food justice, chronic disease prevention, regenerative & organic agriculture, and sustainable healthy dietary patterns. Currently, I serve on the Editorial Review Board and as a Column Editor for the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. I live in Bogota, Colombia with my husband, two teenagers (boy-girl twins), and our dog Honey. My website is: You can follow me on Instagram at:

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