Beef tax
Swedes love their beef; in fact, they are the second biggest consumers of beef in the European Union, beaten only by Luxembourg. The average Swede consumes 25 kilos (55 pounds) of beef a year, which is far above the average in the EU. This is something Jordbruksverket (the Swedish Board of Agriculture) wants to put a stop to by proposing a beef tax, all in the name of saving the environment. “The most important conclusion is that we ought to eat less meat,” says Gabriella Cahlin, marketing director at Jordbruksverket, about a report the board just published. There’s a strong tradition to eat beef in Sweden, explains Ragni Andersson, who is responsible for the environmental department at Jordbruksverket. “Add to that the fact that we’ve had a relatively good financial situation, and that has also influenced (our meat eating). We also have a food trend that puts emphasis on eating meat and grilling.” The proposed tax is based on a formula of how much greenhouse gas is produced by one kilo of beef, one kilo of chicken and so on. In addition, Jordbruksverket proposes a limit on how much carbon dioxide a pound of meat can contribute. This way, it is hoped the “worst” meat would disappear from the market.

Henning Mankell in Davos
A somewhat odd participant at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is Swedish author Henning Mankell. Mankell was invited to talk about his authorship and his relationship to Africa (he spends half his time in Maputo, Mozambique and is currently the artistic director at the Teatro Avenida there). Thus Africa gets extra attention at the forum, for which about 2600 politicians, economists and people from trade and industry are gathering in the Swiss ski resort. “No person interested in economy and politics today can escape talking about the situation in Africa, said Mankell, adding that many of Africa’s problems are unnecessary. “No child should ever have to die from malaria. No child should ever have to go out into the world without being able to read or write. There are so many problems we could have solved. We have the logistics, we have the money and the knowledge, but we don’t care to solve them.” An unusual number of African leaders have been invited this year to Davos, and among the items on the program is an increased interest in the continent. “I am not surprised,” said Mankell, “Since there is yet again a fight for Africa’s raw material. That means Africa, in a slight cynical turn, has become interesting.”