Taxes may not exactly be your favorite thing in the world, but one group of scientists has made a novel proposal that may make some sense to those of you in favor of a meatless lifestyle: tax meat so we can save the Earth.

As recently laid out in the journal Nature Climate Change, the scientists argue that methane emissions from animal agriculture are one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gases (thus contributing to global warming).

According to the UN, emissions from livestock account for up to 14.5 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gases.

“Influencing human behavior is one of the most challenging aspects of any large-scale policy, and it is unlikely that a large-scale dietary change will happen voluntarily without incentives,” the researchers state. “Implementing a tax or emission trading scheme on livestock’s greenhouse gas emissions could be an economically sound policy that would modify consumer prices and affect consumption patterns.”

In their research, the scientists note that scientific discussion about reducing greenhouse gases often focused on the cutback of carbon dioxide emissions, not on methane, even though methane reportedly has 30 times the influence on global warming than carbon dioxide.

As summarized by Voices of Compassion, “incidentally, though, reducing animal production would not only reduce methane emissions, it would also reduce the carbon dioxide emissions released from forest clearing for farms.”

Thus, the researchers assert, a reduction in animal farming for meat “could make a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation goals and yield important social and environmental co-benefits.”

Now, the proposition for a tax on meat is likely to be a complicated and controversial one, but, when it comes to influencing human behavior, money seems to be one of those things that can actually have an impact. A tax to help us save the world (and saving animals in the meantime)? That might be something some of us can get behind.

Image Source: Jamelle Bouee/Flickr