The Environment, Employment, and Sustainable Development

By Monica Hale; Mike Lachowicz | Go to book overview

7

THE ENVIRONMENT AND INDUSTRY
Legislation and voluntary standards schemes Rita Raum DegrèveThe different approaches to introducing environmental standards that have evolved include:
1 Voluntary measures, e.g. responsible care schemes;
2 Legislative measures, e.g. emissions controls;
3 Economic and fiscal measures, e.g. carbon tax.

Some of the difficulties associated with these include, for example, the problems local authorities experience in knowing which approach to take, the political connotations of any form of taxation and the political/economic effects of legislation (i.e. on exporting/importing and trade), and the need to overcome the resistance of business and industry to legislation. There has been a noticeable shift towards the voluntary approach (e.g. such as eco-labelling and EMAS).

However, the voluntary approach is often more innovative and effective as its origins within industry foster greater co-operation between businesses. Agreements for standards originating from industry itself tend to provide longer-term measures to reduce environmental effects as they need to be shaped into and around business strategies. Self-regulation by industry is highly effective as it is a natural result of peer scrutiny, public scrutiny and consumer pressure.

The very existence of industrial standards can itself stimulate further action by individual businesses. Standards may be heavily dependent on extensive consumer awareness and could potentially stifle competition to become even more environmentally sound (i.e. beyond the levels set by standards). Larger (multinational) companies are now leading the field in producing cleaner, more environmentally sound technologies. However, different approaches will be appropriate according to the specific nature of the structure and dynamics of different industrial sectors.

-47-

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