UK

Whitehall deletes document shaming Britons into ‘eco-guilt’ with fewer flights and ditching meat

Whitehall deletes document shaming Britons into ‘eco-guilt’ by advising fewer flights abroad and ditching meat

  • A paper published on Government website aimed to ’embarrass’ frequent flyers
  • Deleted document also suggested public ‘shifts dietary habits’ away from meat 
  • The Department for Business said paper was academic research and not policy


A blueprint urging people to go greener to ‘embarrass’ frequent flyers and learn one new plant-based recipe has been deleted from the Government website.

The document recommended the public ‘shifts dietary habits’ away from meat, and suggested promoting domestic tourism while portraying business travel as an ‘immoral indulgence’.

Written by the Behavioural Insights Unit – also known as the Nudge Unit – it was withdrawn within hours of being published by the Government alongside its Net Zero Strategy on Tuesday.

The Department for Business said the paper was academic research and not official policy. ‘We have no plans whatsoever to dictate consumer behaviour in this way. For that reason, our Net Zero Strategy contained no such plans,’ it said.

The now deleted document also suggested public ‘shifts dietary habits’ away from meat with the public urged to learn one new plant-based recipe (stock image)

It later emerged that a second document, published by the Carbon Trust to ensure net zero policies didn’t offend anyone, was also deleted.

A source said the papers were independent research documents used to inform policy-making decisions, adding that Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng rejected all of the ‘mental ideas’ but could not explain why they were then published.

The nudge unit is known for its role in the design of the sugar levy and early comments on the pandemic ‘herd immunity’ strategy.

It made a recommendation, following the example of the sugar levy, with a tax on producers or retailers of ‘high-carbon foods’ to incentivise plant-based and local food diets.

It suggests ‘building support for a bold policy’, such as a tax on producers of sheep and cattle meat.

However, it states that an ‘unsophisticated meat tax would be highly regressive’.

The research paper also says the Government should offer ‘low-carbon’ food at hospitals, schools, prisons, courts and military facilities.

It also states a ‘timely moment to intervene’ in changing diets could be to target people attending university or first-time renters.

The document recognises that ‘asking people to directly eat less meat and dairy is a major political challenge’.

It said, however, that ‘smaller asks’ may be possible – for example, people learning one new recipe.

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