Meat companies may be in for a rude and expensive awakening: A new report released by the investor network FAIRR revealed that meat companies could face an $11 billion carbon tax bill by 2050.

Right now, during the London Climate Action week, governments from around the world are pushing for carbon taxes on farm-animal emissions. Typically, carbon taxes only occur in the transport and energy sector, but policymakers agree that taxing animal agriculture would improve human health and help fight climate change.

COVID-19 rocked the world and policymakers believe that animals played a part in spreading the virus from animals to humans. The Livestock Levy: Progress Report, states:

"In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic (a zoonotic disease that has transferred from animals to humans) the human health issues connected with meat are currently in the spotlight. The report finds that, in addition to these growing health concerns, the environmental impact of meat has become particularly pressing for policymakers, and is likely to create material risks for investors to consider."

Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all Greenhouse Gas emissions, measured in carbon-dioxide equivalent. Bloomberg Green reported, "Agriculture is second only to energy in contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions, and raising animals accounts for almost half the industry’s carbon footprint." Taxing meat giants would force them to make fiscally smart decisions to help improve their impact on the environment.

Could a carbon tax lead to cheaper fruits and vegetables? 

"Progressive legislation will likely tie incoming revenues from meat taxes to specific societal benefits such as lower prices of fruit and vegetables or support to farmers to help transition to more climate-friendly produce," the FAIRR report concluded. FAIRR is a global network of investors addressing ESG issues in protein supply chains.

This carbon tax could lead to cheaper fruits and vegetables for consumers, the report suggests, which would in turn leading to consumers eating more plant-based foods, since cost is a common barrier for people who want to eat healthily but can't afford it.

Jeroom Remmers, Director of the True Animal Protein Price Coalition (TAPP), told Plant-Based News, "Crucially, The TAPP Coalition has found that the majority of consumers will now support meat taxes, if other food products like vegetables are lowered in price, and policymakers like the EU Commission are more receptive than ever."

If carbon taxes lower the cost of healthy foods, a whole-food, plant-based diet may become more cost-effective and a more economically accessible lifestyle choice.