EIS Student Louis Phelps Wins Policy Idol
Posted on 07/04/2017
European & International Studies (EIS) student Louis Phelps has been crowned the overall winner of Policy Idol 2017 for giving an informative pitch on his policy to improve the environment by reducing meat consumption in the UK. Policy Idol is an annual competition organised by the Policy Institute at King’s where staff and students have the opportunity to pitch their policy ideas to a panel of elite political experts. Each pitch is limited to three minutes.
The notion that there is a link between meat consumption and global warming is put forth in the groundbreaking documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret by environmental activist Kip Andersen and award-winning documentary filmmaker Keegan Kuhn. The documentary deems animal agriculture the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, and is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. After watching this documentary, and having friends who were beginning to eat less meat, Louis was interested in exploring whether the problem of climate change and meat consumption could be tackled through public policy. After attending a King’s Think Tank session on how to write policy, he decided to put forth his idea in the Policy Idol competition
Specifically, he proposed that in the UK, halving meat consumption would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately one third. For his policy to work, Louis suggested that the Government gradually decrease subsidies given to the livestock sector. Moreover, this process would lead to an increase in the price of meat – reflecting the true cost of its production – and would ultimately ease consumer demand and reduce consumption. The extra subsidies would be used to help farmers transition to more sustainable methods of food production.
An additional benefit of this policy would be that people would generally be healthier, since consumption of too much meat can lead to health issues, which would therefore reduce the burden on the NHS. Louis finally suggested that Brexit would be a good opportunity for the government to rework its agricultural policy to foster innovation in the sector.
Louis gives credit to the essay work he did in his International Political Economy MA. In a recent interview with the School of Politics & Economics, he said: ‘My studies taught me the value of focusing on clarity and structure when composing an argument.’
‘Since I only had three minutes, laying out my arguments in a coherent way was essential for the judges and audience to understand the policy and the logic behind it. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the competition, but it's a really useful skill to have for any career.'
Approaching the end of his degree, Louis hopes to go on to work in politics or the civil service. Later down the line, he would like to pick up his interest in policy and agriculture, but for now is curious to see how policy on agriculture will change with Brexit.