Boom by nature

More employment with an natural based economy

Berlin, 14th of April 2005.

Josef Göppel and Joachim Pfeiffer, members of German parliament "Deutscher Bundestag", published a book titled "Konjunktur durch Natur".

The book tries to make clear, by showing a lot of concrete examples, how to strengthen employment and how to reduce, at the same time, expenses by sustainable environmental development.

It's the first time that two MBs of the CSU/CDU party, an environment and an economic specialist, present a common project. This political conceptcould be a new connection between ecology and economy.

The main-statement of the book is: The connection of the nature constitution with the rule principles of social economy brings additional employment and saves scopes for future generations and their own life planning.

Here you can read the summary of this book:


The reform debate in Germany has so far focused almost entirely on the relationship between economic and social policy. There has been hardly any attempt to bring in ecological aspects. Yet active environmental prevention is just as vital an aspect of the three-pron-ged approach to sustainability as the economic and social aspects. Preventive environmental policy also offers significant potential for innovation and new employment opportunities.

Parallels between nature and economics

Surprising parallels exist between growth and competition processes in nature and human economic processes. The authors of this paper therefore advocate that the  laws and organisational structures of nature be appliedto human economics.

This applies for example to the principle of internal differentiation i.e. the creation of the greatest possible variety. Variety and competition produce farmore new ideas and innovation than monopolistic structures.

Product cycles within the economy resemble the growth processes in natural systems. Although expansion in natural systems is checked through factors such as availability of food and competition pressures! Humans, on the other hand, can use new solutions to make more efficient use of limited natural goods and thus allow additional growth.

In nature too, competition determines the shape of all living communities. The two classic answers to competitive pressures, dispersal and the occupation of niches, can be seen to the same extent in human economics.

Finally, an interesting parallel to ecological principles also exists regarding state intervention in the economy. Intervention should be in line with the market and should be as slight as possible. When substances are converted, the degree of penetration should be as low as possible in order that the basic chemical structure remains intact.

More efficient use of raw materials and energy

To this end, resources must be used more efficiently. A transition is needed to an economic approach involving increased productivity of resources, in other words to managing  natural resources more carefully and effectively. The proposed regulatory framework would ensure that social justice was maintained and ecological boundaries observed.

Use of environmental goods and raw materials must be significantly reduced and made more efficient. If the correct framework is created, themarket is able to find suitable technical solutions. In the past, increased productivity was generally achieved by more efficient use of human resources. In a knowledge-based economy it will be more important to increase the efficiency with which natural resources are used. This brings with it new products, services, markets and jobs.

So far, external environmental costs caused by the use of natural resources are not included in pricing, or at least far from satisfactorily. If resourcesare to be used sustainably, this has to change. To this end, the authors propose a mixture of regulatory and market instruments. The principles on which they base their proposals are those of market conformity, priority for cost-effective measures, ecological effectiveness and maintenance of competitiveness.

Environmental prevention measures are aimed at changing behaviour. Themore rigorous and more credible policy-makers are in setting goals, the less they need to actually intervene. Subsidies must be temporary and transparent, i.e. direct. The goals pursued must result in as little expense as possible, or must provide the greatest ecological benefit possible. In concrete terms, this means, in the area of climate protection for example, implementing measures in those areas where the costs of avoiding greenhouse gases are the lowest. It is clear that this means the areas of heating buildings,warm water production and transport.

All producers of environmental burdens should be given incentives to encourage them to constantly seek opportunities to use less natural resources.This will help boost innovation, leading to the creation of employment. All proposed instruments are designed to be revenue neutral.

Energy tax in line with the market - the centrepiece of ecological financial reform

The current eco tax should be replaced by a revenue-neutral and competition-neutral energy tax which covers all forms of energy according to the relative damage they do to the environment. Germany must set the pace in Europe and must push for harmonised energy taxation in the European Union (EU). Energy taxation must be planned on a long-term basis and must increase very gradually. This allows all those affected to examine where they can save energy and to include the factor of energy efficiency as a very important criterion when planning the acquirement or replacement of capital assets. This will create the desired innovation boost. The overall burden of taxation on industry must not be further increased. Companies which participate in emissions trading are already making a contribution to reducing emissions and should be exempted from the tax.

Air traffic

Ecologically counterproductive subsidies must be dismantled. The exemption of air traffic from mineral oil tax, which gives it an unfair competitive advantage vis-à-vis other forms of transport, can no longer be justified. In a first stage of kerosene taxation in the EU, the minimum rate of taxation on diesel could be applied. As an alternative to this, the authors suggest air traffic being included in European emissions trading.

Road traffic

In the area of road traffic, a system of revenue-neutral  distance-related charges, working on the polluter-pays principle, should be introduced. As a counterbalance, mineral oil tax and motor vehicle tax could beabolished with the introduction of the European-wide energy tax.


One third of Germany's primary energy consumption is used for heating buildings and the production of warm water. Improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings could potentially lead to a 40 % reduction in CO2 emissions. It is urgently necessary that this potential should beexploited to a greater extent. The revenue generated by the energy tax should be used to finance a direct allowance to help cover the costs of investing in improving the energy-efficiency of buildings. This type of programme would trigger the investment of millions in thebuilding sector. The value added would chiefly benefit regional crafts- and tradespeople.

Renewable energies

The export potential of renewable energy sources should be exploited to a greater extent for Germany. In the long term, the goal should be a significant increase in the proportion of energy consumption covered by renewable energies. These technologies should be promoted throughout the whole of the pre-commercial stage. Increasing profitability must be more clearly reflected in the rates of payment and instruments, however. Distinctions should be made between the different energy sources. In future, particular emphasis should be placed on the base-load energy sources biomass and hydropower.

Materials productivity

German industry has already come a long way in terms of increasing the efficiency with which it uses materials in production. Longer guarantee periods and take-back obligations, together with the incentives created by the Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act have helped to achieve this. These provisions must be reinforced.


The principle of final responsibility for water supply being in the hands of the local authorities has proved its worth. This must not be changed. Models of partnership between drinking water consumers and farmers in water protection areas should be extended, in order to compensate farmers appropriately for restrictions on their use.

Soil and landscape

In view of the escalating costs of maintaining infrastructure and adapting infrastructure to lower population density, development of greenfield sites must decrease significantly. This can take place by unoccupied plots between other buildings being built on, or through the redevelopment of brownfield sites and more sensible use of available servicedland.

One mix of instruments which could be used would involve replacing the real estate acquisition tax by a new-development levy with a revenue-neutral effect. This would mean that sites already developed would not be subject to taxation. In addition, where land which has so far been undeveloped is used for building, a higher rate of real estate taxshould apply, to be offset by a reduction of the tax burden forbuilding in towns and cities. In the case of greenfield sites earmarked for development, a system of certificates-trading between municipalities would seem sensible; the area of greenfield sites authorised for development should be laid down in the framework of regional planning.

In order to increase the attractiveness of particular locations through intact landscapes, cooperation between municipal policy-makers, farmers and conservationists, such as the exemplary cooperation taking place within landscape protection associations, should be extended. Financial rewards to farmers for the contribution they make to maintaining the cultural landscape must be placed on a sustainable footing.

Regionalised production and consumption

Regionalised production and consumption is a necessary element in the era of globalisation. It stabilises the system as a whole. The instruments proposed ensure that the external costs of goods transport are fed into the pricing process. This would allow regionally produced goods to become more competitive once again. The authors also call for regional initiatives to be supported through drinking water and greenfield-development levies. The costs of providing infrastructure in rural areas should be covered through an obligation placed on providers of services of general interest to ensure that sparsely populated areas are also provided for.

Global responsibility

Finally, the paper focuses on our global responsibility. Political stability and economic wellbeing are only possible if the distribution of income on the planet is acceptable. Thus, an ethical framework for the globalised economy is urgently needed. The global economy needs rules which apply globally. The international social and environmental organisations must therefore be endowed with the same sanctions mechanisms in the social and environmental fields as those of the WTO. The international capital markets must be tapped to provide financing for development cooperation.