Local currencies, a necessary energy transition tool


Publication date

February 16, 2016

Used as an alternative to the euro in a given locality, a city or a region, complementary local currencies help strengthen, enrich and preserve exchanges and social bonds, create jobs and reduce the environmental footprint.
They also stimulate the local economy and boost local consumption and production.

In Europe, a number of initiatives have been developed and local currencies are gaining ground: Sel, Wir, Bristol pound, SoNantes, Res, Chiemgauer-Scheine, Abeille, Dam, Eusko … names which all place the economy back at the heart of the local territory.
To be successful, these initiatives must involve all stakeholders from all sectors:

  • The consumption, production and distribution sectors, thus forming a first local community which will demonstrate the benefits of creating a local currency.
  • The local authority to provide these community-based initiatives with technical or financial support, give them credibility and reassure potential users.
  • A local bank to consolidate trust.

Successful experiments in Europe

One of the best-known examples is Bristol (UK) and its Bristol Pound, which has been taken up by many citizens and companies as this map of shops and businesses accepting the local currency shows, like Bristol Energy Co-operative or Good Energy Limited, to remain in the energy sector.

In France, the entire northern part of the Basque Country has been won over by the Eusko. Launched in January 2013, this complementary local currency is used in over 80 towns and cities for all types of daily purchases: food, health, clothing, etc.

Many initiatives in Europe have been inspired by the Chiemgauer in circulation in Bavaria (Germany). Launched in 2003 by students to finance a project, the Chiemgauer is now accepted by almost 600 shops and businesses and is used by over 3,000 people.
Bavaria can now offer its inhabitants green prices for the electricity produced locally by Priener, a company producing hydraulic and solar energy.

For further information

Energy Cities suggests you read the study by the Veblen Institute “Financer la transition écologique des territoires par les monnaies locales” (in French) which details the solutions that make local currencies indispensable energy transition levers by connecting them directly to investment support programmes in favour of the local ecological transition.

Our database also contains a number of initiatives from our member and partner cities which have implemented policies in favour of short supply chains and support projects promoting new economic models.

The “Complementary Currency Resource Center” lists all complementary currencies in circulation.

© Photo : archives Jean-Daniel Chopin – Comité de pilotage de l’Association pour la création d’une monnaie locale en Pays Basque