Local To Global Public Finance

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Framework proposed by Earth Rights:


Non-governmental organizations like Global Education Associates and others working for a more peaceful and just world ask us to imagine the shape of the emerging world as a pyramid with three basic levels:

  • a small tier at the top for global institutions,
  • a greatly slimmed down second band of national governments,
  • and a vast sturdy base of local governance.

Green Tax Reform could become a comprehensive and universally accepted approach to public finance policy that can readily be integrated into such a three-tier system of local-to-global governance. Percentages of total resource revenues collected could be disbursed up or down these tiers based on criteria of equity, as some nations and regions of the earth are better endowed with natural resources than others. Freedom to live or work in any part of the globe would also further equality of entitlement to the planet.

Appropriate tax bases to fund cities, regions, states and global levels can be delineated as follows:


Surface land values, such as sites for homes, businesses and industrial activities, are well-suited to finance cities and towns. Progressively shifting taxes OFF OF productive efforts such as building homes, working and organizing businesses, and ON TO land site values prevents land speculation and monopoly, thus keeping land affordable while at the same time enabling workers to keep what they have earned. This type of green tax shift also would be recommended for rural areas where it has potential for non-coercive land reform which could underpin the transition to organic farming and a revitalized rural 'eco-village' culture.


State, regional, or national bodies may be best constituted to collect user fees for forestry, mineral, oil and water resources. Precise configurations for the allocation of resource rentals between state, regional and federal levels would vary according to the situation of particular nations.


Urgently needed is the establishment of a Global Resource Agency to collect user fees for transnational commons. This would include parking charges for satellites placed in geostationary orbits, royalties on minerals mined or fish caught in international waters and use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Other significant global revenue sources are taxes or fees based on the polluter-pay principle, such as international flights or aviation fuel, international shipping, or dumping at sea. A tax on currency speculation has also been proposed. To be considered is whether international arms trading should be heavily taxed or completely abolished.

The Global Resource Agency could also be responsible for monitoring the global commons (e.g., the ozone shield, forest reserves, fish, biodiversity), determining rules for access, issuing permits and collecting resource revenues. Such a body could also assume substantial authority for levying fines and penalties for the abuse of common heritage resources.

Revenues raised from access fees for the use of global commons could fund sustainable development programs, environmental restoration, peacekeeping activities, or low interest loans for poverty eradication. Funds are also needed on the global level to finance justice institutions such as the World Court and the International Criminal Court and to facilitate policy convergence in areas such as trade, currency exchange, and human rights. The Global Resource Agency could be mandated to distribute resource revenues equitably throughout the world as calculated by formulas based on population, development criteria and currency purchasing capacity." (http://www.earthrights.net/docs/greentax.html)