Just Reproduction, Production and Consumption

Ecological tax reform

What's the problem?

A central cause of the excessively cheap availability of natural resources and the associated emissions is their low level of taxation and the heavy tax burden on labour income. A remedy can therefore be found in shifting the tax burden from labour to resource consumption.

What's the measure?

  • Introduce a budgetary system, which, in the long term, transforms the current tax system based mainly on labour into a system based on energy and resource consumption.
  • Increasing annual taxation of emissions and all natural resources, including annually decreasing resource caps.
  • Gradual reduction of the tax on labour income down to zero, while at the same time ensuring just graduation in the transition process
  • Reduction of taxation for lower income groups and compensation through a CO2 tax
  • A tax rate of 90 percent for top incomes, as was customary in the USA in the 1950s. (+increase in non-taxable income)
  • A gradually increasing capital gains and inheritance tax. Tax revenues are used for social welfare and → investments in the areas of just mobility, energy democracy, just agriculture, just housing and spatial planning as well as a fund for supporting measures of global climate justice.

How can the implementation look like?

First steps can be taken at different political levels depending on the context. The level of resource taxation must be gradually increased to ensure that resource consumption is reduced to a sustainable level. Resource taxes can either relate directly to the use of resources (fossil fuels, raw materials, land, ...) or indirectly to the burden of → sinks (emissions, water pollution, ...). The revenues generated by ecological taxes should be used to finance the socio-ecological transformation. Initial steps can be taken at various political levels, depending on the context.

  • progressive taxes on environmental harmful consumption 
  • Increase in import taxes
  • Increase of waste charges

How can climate change be counteracted and how can economic conditions be created that support effective climate protection measures?

This measure should lead to a reduction in resource consumption and at the same time promote jobs in the care sector (see → care work), agriculture, regional crafts, maintenance and repair of products. At the local level, this would make it easier to establish regional and more labour-intensive food production, because agriculture that does not use fossil fuels and promotes biodiversity is inevitably labour-intensive. Regional organic products would become cheaper and products produced in industrial global agriculture would become more expensive. The same applies to the production of e.g. furniture, clothing, and everyday consumer goods.

References to other measures

Tax revenue becomes a social service of general interest (cf. basic and maximum income {translationof orig_page="Grund- und Maximaleinkommen" translation_lang="en" translation_page=""}), investitions in the following areas mobility justice ( {translationof orig_page="Mobilitätsgerechtigkeit" translation_lang="en" translation_page=""}), energy democracy ({translationof orig_page="Energiedemokratie" translation_lang="en" translation_page=""}), just agriculture (gerechte Landwirtschaft), just housing and spatial planning  (gerechte Wohn- und Raumplanung), and can be used for global  justice and intersectionality ({translationof orig_page="Globale Gerechtigkeit und Intersektionalität" translation_lang="en" translation_page=""}). 

Problems of social, global and intergenerational justice

Many natural resources for the production of e.g. also renewable energy sources come from the → global south. The resource tax must not lead to the externalization of costs at the expense of people from the global South. The right to self-determination of the people there, not at least of the indigenous communities, must be respected.

Further literature and sources

  1. Schmelzer, Matthias & Vetter, Andrea (2019): Degrowth/Postwachstum zur Einführung.
  2. Research & Degrowth: Ye, We Can Prosper Without Growth (2015, abgerufen am 2.3.2020)

Yes, we can prosper without growth:

Matthias Schmelzer, Andrea Vetter, Degrowth/Postwachstum