Emerging trend of complementary currencies systems as policy instruments for environmental purposes: changes ahead?

Using complementary currencies systems as policy instruments for environmental purposes is a trend that seems to be progressively emerging in Europe. The Belgian Science Policy INESPO Project, which provides the framework for the research presented in this paper, is building on this emerging trend. The aim of the INESPO project is indeed to build new instruments for energy saving policies in the household sector based on the innovative coupling of Complementary Currencies (CC) and Smart Meters (SM). According to the rationale of the project, the new CC-SM instruments should promote behavioural changes in everyday life as well as encourage households to invest in energy efficiency. The idea behind the project is not to miss the opportunity of including an incentive scheme for behavioural change should a significant SM roll-out take place.

In order to gain insights for the design of the CC part of the instrument, a first step was to turn to projects that had in the past already used CC as policy instrument for behavioural change towards sustainability. To this purpose, projects which have pioneered this path in Europe were analysed. However, although this emerging trend for CC systems had not been left unnoticed by academics (see, for instance Seyfang, 2006 for an insightful discussion on the contribution of NU-Spaarpas to sustainable consumption, or Blanc 2010 and Blanc and Fare, 2010 for a system typology), it appeared that, to the best of our knowledge, no taxonomy of their constitutive parameters had been developed yet.

In this paper, we would like to contribute to the research on CC as policy instruments for environmental sustainability by presenting a selection of such CC systems and by proposing a taxonomy of their constitutive parameters. The resulting hierarchical classification of parameters is also intended to serve as a building tool for designing similar CC systems. However, in our view, “going down the bones” of CC systems, as it is done with the taxonomy, is not enough to make such CC systems thrive. Indeed, beyond the systematic list of parameters that will define the global architecture of the system, attention should also be given to “flesh” (e.g. expectations from stakeholders and carriers of the system) and “soul” (e.g. the conceptual framework used to build the system).

Hélène Joachain and Frédéric Klopfert

To cite this article: Joachain, H. and Klopfert, F. (2012) ‘Emerging trend of complementary currencies systems as policy instruments for environmental purposes: changes ahead?’ International Journal of Community Currency Research 16 (D) 156-168  <www.ijccr.net> ISSN  1325-9547 http://dx.doi.org/10.15133/j.ijccr.2012.022

IJCCR 2012 Joachain Klopfert