Elsevier

Environmental Science & Policy

Volume 99, September 2019, Pages 169-177
Environmental Science & Policy

Promoting climate-friendly diets: What should we tell consumers in Denmark, Finland and France?

Under a Creative Commons license
open access

Highlights

We identify cost-beneficial diet recommendations reducing climate impact and improving health in three EU countries.

The recommendations to promote in priority depend on the country.

Encouraging consumption of fruits and vegetables is win-win and socially desirable in all three countries.

More promotion of sustainable diet recommendations through social marketing is required in the EU.

Abstract

We investigate ex-ante the effects of promoting simple climate-friendly diet recommendations in Denmark, Finland and France, with the objective of identifying cost-beneficial recommendations that lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve public health. The simulation approach combines a behavioural model of consumption adjustment to dietary constraints, a model of climate impact based on the life-cycle analysis of foods, and an epidemiological model calculating health outcomes. The five recommendations considered in the analysis focus on consumption of fruits and vegetables, red meat, all meat and all animal products, as well as the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the diet. The results show that trade-offs between climate and health objectives occur for some recommendations in all countries, and that substitutions may result in unintended effects. However, in all countries, we identify some recommendations that would raise sustainability in both its climate and health dimensions, while delivering value for money and increasing social welfare. In particular, promoting consumption of fruits and vegetables through campaigns of the “five-a-day” type is found to be cost-beneficial in all three countries. By contrast, targeting consumption of meat, consumption of all animal products, or the climate footprint of diets directly through social marketing campaigns is only found to be desirable in some country-specific contexts.

Keywords

Climate
Greenhouse gas emissions
Healthy
Diet
Sustainability
Food choices