The Role Of The EU In Encouraging Sustainable Protein Consumption

An Agent-Based Model On The Effect Of Social Norms On Reducing Meat Consumption in the Netherlands

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The IPCC report of August 2021 calls for an immediately reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Without changing the world’s diets, even if we stop all fossil fuel emissions today, we would still not be able to maintain global warming below 1.5°C. The EU has set out their strategy for reducing agricultural emissions in the Farm to Fork Strategy, as part of the European Green Deal. This strategy, however, falls short of addressing meat consumption. Individual meat consumption is shaped by a range of factors, including social norms. The influence of these norms is investigated in this thesis, which addresses the research question: “how do social norms influence meat consumption and to what extent can European policy influence these to reduce meat consumption?”. This thesis takes the Netherlands as case study, and constructs an explorative agent-based model, based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour, where social norms spread through social networks. Individual meat consumption is broken into beef, pork, poultry, processed and substitute meat consumption. The factors of influence are analysed in this research through a correlation analysis of various surveys, and the likelihood to eat specific meat types is calculated through a least-squares multiple regression analysis. This research finds that social norms play a tangible role in shaping consumption, and targeting these can emissions from meat consumption by 0.4-4%. Fiscal policies are a more effective policy measure for the EU to follow, as a 20% tax on all meat can reduce emissions by 10%. A tax on beef was found to redistribute consumption in such a way that overall emissions do not decrease. The findings from this research are discussed in the political, policy and socio-economic contexts regarding meat consumption.