A innovative community in Western Australia is about to issue notes on the basis of local emission reduction projects. Each note tells a story!
Sam Nelson

Maia Maia ERCS, a local Western Australian group, has created a new way for local communities to make their efforts to reduce carbon pollution, which are normally invisible, into a tangible form of ‘community money’.  The approach is similar to simple loyalty programmes such as frequent flyer points.

Frustrated with the lack of government leadership in regulating dangerous carbon pollution, Maia Maia ERCS, launched the boya, a local currency issued on the basis of positive actions to prevent climate change.  The launch took place on 30 January at a workshop on Empowered Fundraising in Fremantle, WA. 

Boya are created as ‘rewards’ for group activities that result in the reduction in CO2 pollution through reducing power bills, planting trees, installing solar panels or other activities.  Once reductions are made, groups are able to apply to create their own boyas  underwritten by their actions. Maia Maia ERCS uses global standards to calculate the amount of carbon taken out of the atmosphere as a result of that action for the currency issue.

Each boya note contains the logo of the group issuing it, the amount of carbon pollution reduced, the activity undertaken to reduce it and who sponsored them in helping to cover their costs. The first issue of the boya was by the Gaia Foundation of Western Australia and the International Permaculture Service (IPS) which is working with farmers in Ghana, Africa to develop sustainable agriculture methods and who planted the trees used to back their boya.  The sponsor of the issue, whose logo also appears on the boya, was Edge 5, an environmental consultancy which helped set up IPS.

Sam Nelson, a co-founder of Maia Maia ERCS, believes the story of the group is the most powerful element of the boya. He explains, “As our stories continue to circulate with the boya they remind us that people are out there doing good things, something that is easy to overlook.  I believe it is this sharing of stories that will have the most impact in changing our society, rather than any economic value we may put on carbon.”

The boya is named after rock trading tokens used by local Nyungar people, which  is one of the oldest systems of money on the planet.  The name was suggested by local Elder Neville Collard.

There are currently four businesses signed up to accept the boya for various discount offers and a similar number of communities on the waiting list to issue their own boya.   Some are offering a dollar discount per boya whereas some, like the Organic Collective, an organic fruit and veg retailer in Fremantle, is offering a 10% discount for 10 boya.

Trading the boya can be likened to the use of frequent flyer points or other loyalty programs. A boya can be redeemed at participating businesses or traded among individuals but can then also be used by businesses to trade with other vendors. The boya is issued in the form of a note so that it can be carried around in people’s wallets and handbags and shared.  People and shops are putting their own value on the currency.  What ever it is worth to them to do something about global warming - the group foresees that over time a general price will be arrived at.  Through this trading the boya will enrich participating communities with a sense of pride that it's members are playing their part in protecting our common future

There are currently over 200 local currency systems in operation around Australia, but Maia Maia ERCS is the first such system to be based on emissions reductions. 

For more information or to register as a business or community visit www.maiamaia.org