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It is not enough for us to only change what we can immediately influence. We need societal change for a sustainable development. How do we politically get involved? How do we campaign for socio-ecological financial education? What networks are we active in?

GLS Bank Illustration Wandel im Nachhaltigkeitsbericht 2020 | Veranstaltungen und politische Forderungen für sozial-ökologisches Banking


Together for change

The GLS Bank along with the GLS community advocate for a sustainable future every day. To do this, we go beyond our daily banking business and promote societal transformation. We cannot and do not want to do this alone – we need allies, and we use our potential influence. The GLS Bank as a cooperative puts special emphasis on collaboration and community: Our members can vote on various decisions, for example at the annual general meeting and on the members round trip to our branch locations.

Taking a stand

Despite international objectives like the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, the transition towards a sustainable way of doing business should progress faster. Necessary for this transition are political frameworks and regulations on a national level. We take a clear stance and have established political demands, with which we want to lay down the tracks for an economic approach to future suitable for generations to come. In doing so we do not act out of self-interest, but follow the social, ecological, and cultural needs of society. Still a bank or already an activist? The bounds are not always unambiguous, because courageous involvement is needed.

Taxation of CO2 emissions without exception

The pollution of air, water and soil cannot be passed on to the general public and future generations any longer. The cost of such damage must be taxed and done so according to responsibility for the pollution.

The CO2 emissions in Germany are decreasing much slower than they could and should be according to international agreements. The consistent transition of all sectors towards CO2-neutral energy sources requires a suitable foundation. We need a fee on the emissions of greenhouse gases through fossil energy sources (“CO2 tax“) to incentivise the use of renewable energy. The amount of the tax could be calculated irrespective of revenue of the existing energy levies and taxes (coal, oil, gas). That way, the costs are no longer externalized, but are attributed to the actual emitter.

The tax would create a clear price signal and incentive to better utilize existing low-emission generating capacities. Additionally, through a CO2 tax the complicated funding structures for renewable energies could become redundant. The competition amongst fossil, nuclear and renewable works best, when long-term environmental damages and risks of destruction are priced according to the responsibility for the (potential) damage done.

The GLS bank has the following sustainability goals for 2022:

S10-O2: Continuation of socio-political activities for the introduction of a fair CO2 price (continuous)

S10-O3: Raising awareness of society and GLS employees on climate protection and climate justice (continuous)

Consistent taxation of sprays and fertilizers

The sustainable use of natural resources must be brought to attention field of agriculture. We cannot afford to continue the overexploitation of valuable ecosystems. The intensive agricultural use of land leads to an enormous depletion of biodiversity through the extinction of plant and animal species. The groundwater contamination caused by an elevated nutrient input, leads to extensive damages in some regions. In the interest of future generations, we must maintain the clean water, biodiversity and intact soils.

Soil fertility is the foundation of life and essential for a natural biodiversity and thus for us humans. Agricultures responsibility for the preservation of degradation and efforts to restore soil fertility must be strengthened. Soil and ground water pollution though chemicals must have a price in the form of tax, proportional to the environmental costs including cleaning and processing. Those who pollute water and soil must carry the responsibility for it. A consistent tax on the usage of pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers is necessary, so that the usage is no longer profitable and organic farming expands.

For this, we formulated the following GLS sustainability goal 2022:

S10-O1: Awareness raising and networking as well as political work on a levy on sprays and fertilizers with the focus on the development of concrete propositions for implementation in 2022

Photo: Tanja Münnich

Universal basic income

The fulfillment of basic needs like food, clothing or housing should be guaranteed for all humans. This is the duty of our constitutional state assuming the economic prerequisites are available. However, our economic order reaches its limits, when it is supposed to distribute the prevalent abundance in a sensible and just way. Therefore, we need a basic income paid unconditionally to all citizens - enough to cover the socio-cultural subsistence level and allow for societal participation. This can be financed through the elimination by redundance of social benefits and capital taxes. Unconditional basic income would eliminate the stigmatization that the unemployed and welfare recipients are exposed to. It helps to protect human dignity and the welfare state would have less bureaucracy.

Increase levy on capital and relieve earned income

The economy is affected by a huge change: through increasing automation, the output in production and services is increasing and the wage ratio is decreasing. This trend is reinforced by the digitalization and gradual implementation of artificial intelligence. Human labour is, where possible, replaced by machines. As a consequence, an increasing portion of the monetary flows interconnected with value creation flow into capital as return, while the earned income decreases relative to it.

This implies the necessity of comprehensive finance reform. Public tasks should be financed more from capital taxes and less from labour. Thus, we urgently need a stronger taxation on capital transactions, the income from capital, and on capital itself, as well as a tax cut on earned income. Abstract financial products that only earn money through money must be restricted or prohibited.

For this, we formulated the following GLS sustainability goal 2022:

S10-O6: Raising awareness and networking as well as political work on a stronger taxation of capital instead of income as well as an unconditional basic income in 2022