Emissions Reduction Currency System – Austrailian Style

Portland, Oregon, December 30, 2009

MaiaMaiaA small group of us had the opportunity this past week to meet with Sam Nelson visiting Portland from Australia thanks to the folks at Transition PDX.  Sam is the co-founder of the Maia Maia Project, an innovative community based Emissions Reduction Currency System.  He is also an owner of Greenbase, a business in Australia that provides emissions accounting services for over half the mining industry there, and is the past Director of a sustainable biofuels company based in London and India.

The Maia Maia project, the focus of his discussion, is a community based greenhouse gas emissions reduction currency system being trialed in Western Australia. Their local currency based on these reductions is called a ‘Booya’ after rock trading tokens used by the Native Nyungar people of this country.

The idea of using a local currency system to engage citizens in changing their behavior to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, household by household, person by person, comes from Sam’s view that as bad as the news is there is OPPORTUNITY in this crisis. This is a theme pursued in presentations about innovation and the world crisis by sustainability leaders such as Australian Dan Atkins and is a point of view driving results through action and innovation from both the top down and the bottom up, in this case in a community-based program.

For Sam opportunity has four qualities:

(1) Actions to do something are democratically available by changing things we do everyday;

(2) These changes are measurable- we can measure our effectiveness at reducing greenhouse gas emissions;

(3) There are economic benefits and real value in reducing greenhouse gases;

(4) Making changes is a “nice thing to do” meaning it is both personally rewarding as well as altruistic – our actions as individuals impact the community and our neighbors in a positive way.

The Maia Maia project logo with the three hands represents the involvement of community organizations (schools for example), the family, and businesses, all necessary participants in making the project work to significantly reduce the greenhouse footprint of the community.