To: The participants of the UN Climate Conference’s COP26
Re: The Monetary Dimension of Climate Change
From: Attendees of the 17th Monetary Reform Conference by the American Monetary Institute.
Date: November 11, 2021
This is a timely and urgent message to all of you who are concerned about the causes and solutions of climate change.
We are a group of concerned citizens–including academics, experts and activists–who have delved into the current, global monetary system and its problematic impact on society and the environment.
We are gathered at the 17th Monetary Reform Conference organized by the American Monetary Institute, in which context we have formulated this letter.
Our concise statement with ample background references is the following:
We acknowledge there exists a strong correlation between the current, debt-based monetary system [ 1, 2 ] and climate change . It acts through multiple paths of transmission [ 3 ], which have to be taken into account to find just and sustainable solutions.
On top of that, we strongly believe that a sovereign monetary system [ 4, 5 ] will allow substantial public investment s which are required [ 6 ] to steer global civilization [ 7 ] from a brown, carbon-based system to a green, equitable, post- fossil fuel age [ 8 ] with a balanced carbon cycle [ 9 ].
We invite you to get familiar with this line of analysis and, based on it, our policy proposal, which we hope you will give due attention.
- Steven Walsh, Executive Director of the American Monetary Institute
- Govert Schuller, Steward American Monetary Institute
- Richard Robbins, Distinguished Teaching Professor at the Department of Anthropology at SUNY, Plattsburgh
- Tim Di Muzio, Associate Professor of International Relations and Political Economy at the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, at the University of Wollongong, Australia.
- Joseph Huber, Professor emeritus of economic and environmental sociology, Martin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.
- Howard Switzer
- Lucille Eckrich, Ph.D. Founding member and Board member of the Alliance For Just Money; Associate Professor Emeritus, Educational Administration and Foundations, Illinois State University.
- John Howell, Ph.D.
- Mary Sanderson
- Mark Pash, CFP
- Virginia Hammon
- Nick Egnatz, Munster, IN, author of People, Planet and the Power of Money: Reclaiming the Ancient Lost Power, to Heal Our Planet and Ourselves
- Carol Brouillet
- Kevin McCormick
- Ryann Enger, Portland, OR
- Warren Chamberlain
- Don Richards, Positive Money, New Zealand
- Bruce Woll, Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1978; D.Ed. Northern Illinois University, 1997, M.A. in History, University of Pennsylvania, 1962.
Add, if you like, town, state & country, institutional affiliation and any titles.
P.S.: Please also check out the Open Letter and Petition (here) to the UN COP26 developed by sociologist Frans Verhagen in order to set up an international commission to look into monetary matters, not unlike the one the Alliance For Just Money formulated in April 2020 (here).
1. The current monetary system is a debt-based system, because most of the money used for economic transactions in the real economy is generated through the creation of debt when banks extend loans. In the words of Richard Robbins (2014):
We generally assume that governments create money by printing it. And, in fact, when money was linked to gold, there was a limit on how much could be printed. However, with the lifting of these restrictions, most money is now created by banks and other lending institutions through debt. We generally assume, also, that the money that banks lend is money that others have deposited. However, that is not the case; only a fraction of the money that banks lend needs to be in deposits. In effect, whenever a bank lends money, or whenever a product or service is purchased on credit, money has been created.
Robbins, Richard H. 20 14 (1999). Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism. 6th Edition. New York: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.Page 88.
2. Richard Werner (2015) defines and contrasts the credit creation theory of banking as follows:
The credit creation theory of banking is one of three theories concerning the role of banks in the economy. It maintains that each individual bank is able to provide credit and to issue money out of nothing, without having to have received new reserves first (as by contrast the fractional reserve theory of banking maintains), or without having to have received new deposits first (as the financial intermediation theory of banking maintains).
Werner, Richard A. 2015. “Credit Creation”. Entry in Rochon, Louis-Philippe & Rossi, Sergio (Eds.). 2015. The Encyclopedia of Central Banking. Cheltenham, UK & Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing. Page 116.
3. Richard Robbins (2014) has indicated multiple lines of transmission between the CMS and its effects on the environment. For example the culture of capitalism has made the average citizen into an avid consumer.
Our consumption of goods obviously is a function of our culture. Only by producing and selling things and services does capitalism in its present form work, and the more that is produced and the more that is purchased the more we have progress and prosperity. The single most important measure of economic growth is, after all, the gross national product (GNP), the sum total of goods and services produced by a given society in a given year. It is a measure of the success of a consumer society, obviously, to consume. The production, processing, and consumption of commodities, however, require the extraction and use of natural resources (wood, ore, fossil fuels, and water) and require the creation of factories and factory complexes, which create toxic by-products, whereas the use of commodities themselves (e.g., automobiles) creates pollutants and waste. Yet, of the three factors to which environmentalists often point as responsible for environmental pollution—population, technology, and consumption—consumption seems to get the least attention.
Robbins, Richard H. 20 14 (1999). Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism. 6th Edition. New York: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.Page 198.
4. According to Joseph Huber (2017) monetary sovereignty has three components:
Sovereign money gives a nation-state, or community of nation-states, monetary sovereignty. This includes three monetary prerogatives:
- Determining the currency of the realm, the monetary unit of account;
- Creating and issuing money, the means of payment denominated in that currency;
- Benefiting from the seigniorage, the gain that accrues from the creation of money.
Huber, Joseph. 2017. Sovereign Money. Beyond Reserve Banking. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Page 39.
5. In the case of the USA, a sovereign monetary system (SMS) would entail the three following inter-connected changes to the CMS:
- The Federal Reserve is dismantled and good parts are placed into the US Treasury. A Monetary Authority is created which avoids an inflationary or deflationary money supply.
- Accounting rule changes prohibit the banks from creating what we use for money- from using debt for money – what’s known as fractional reserve banking is decisively ended.
- The Congress originates (creates) new US Money and spends it into circulation, for infrastructure, health care and education . ..
Summary of H.R.2990 – National Emergency Employment Defense Act of 2011 (NEED Act). 112th US Congress (2011-2012).
6. The NEED Act was modeled on the 1930s Chicago Plan developed by then prominent economists trying to cope with the causes of the Great Depression. Michael Kumhof & Benes (202) tested this plan and concluded:
Fisher (1936), in his brilliant summary of the Chicago Plan, claimed that it had four major advantages, ranging from greater macroeconomic stability to much lower debt levels throughout the economy. . . . Our analytical and simulation results fully validate Fisher’s (1936) claims. The Chicago Plan could significantly reduce business cycle volatility caused by rapid changes in banks’ attitudes towards credit risk, it would eliminate bank runs, and it would lead to an instantaneous and large reduction in the levels of both government and private debt.
Kumhof, Michael & Benes, Jaromir. 2012. “The Chicago Plan Revisited.” IMF Working Papers 12/202. Washington: International Monetary Fund.
7. Global civilization is maybe better named ‘the global phase of central civilization’.
Today there exists on the Earth only one civilization, a single global civilization. As recently as the nineteenth century several independent civilizations still existed (i.e. those centered on China, Japan, and the West); now there remains but one. Central Civilization. The single global civilization is the lineal descendant of, or rather I should say the current manifestation of, a civilization that emerged about 1500 B.C. in the Near East when Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations collided and fused. This new fusional entity has since then expanded over the entire planet and absorbed, on unequal terms, all other previously independent civilizations.
Wilkinson, David. 1987. “Central Civilzation”. Comparative Civilizations Review, 17/17: Article 4.
8. Tim Di Muzio (2015) proposes a periodization of historical time in three ages:
. . . if fossil fuels are nonrenewable on a scale useful to humans, then it would appear that carbon capitalism and petro-market civilization are transitory historical structures within what Braudel (1983) called the longue dureé. We can thus conceive of three historical eras: an age before fossil fuels, the age of carbon energy and the post–carbon energy age for the duration of human existence.
Di Muzio, Tim. 2015. Carbon Capitalism: Energy, Social Reproduction and World Order. London, UK & Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Page 32.
9. Holli Riebeek (2011) makes the following basic observation:
Carbon is the backbone of life on Earth. We are made of carbon, we eat carbon, and our civilizations—our economies, our homes, our means of transport—are built on carbon. We need carbon, but that need is also entwined with one of the most serious problems facing us today: global climate change.
Riebeek, Holli. 2011. “The Carbon Cycle”. NASA, Earth Observatory.