From: Becky Stanfield <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 12:09:57 -0400
Subject: Re: [empowering_democracy] FW: on "voluntary agreements"
Here's the link to the
At 11:08 AM 6/27/03 -0400, Sanford Lewis wrote:
AGREEMENTS BETWEEN INDUSTRY
AND GOVERNMENTS CAN BE HARMFUL
ENVIRONMENTAL DAILY: Voluntary agreements between governments and
industry sectors aimed at achieving environmental objectives are neutral
at best and potentially harmful, a damning report by the Organisation for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found. The report
concludes from a series of case studies that environmental improvements
appear no different from what would have happened with business-as-usual.
When used in isolation, most voluntary agreements only play a small role
in fulfilling environmental targets, according to the authors. On the
plus side, they do tend to be adopted more rapidly and with more
flexibility than new legislation would, which often results in lower
costs. But administrative costs "tend to vary significantly", and the
fewer the resources allocated to the voluntary agreement, the more modest
its environmental impact.
Combining voluntary approaches with other environmental instruments such
as permits, subsidies, taxes or charges and emission trading systems
usually tends to weaken the other instruments, the report also finds.
The authors suggest that "credible threats" of additional instruments
should be put in place, should a voluntary agreement miss its targets.
The European Commission has recently warned carmakers that legislation
could be drafted if carbon dioxide emissions from new cars are not
reduced as agreed in a voluntary deal five years ago
A number of mechanisms could be used to promote cost-effective pollution
abatement measures, the study says. For example, in Norway, an
environmental fund was set up by the process industries to finance
sulphur emission reductions until the targets set in a voluntary
agreement are reached at all sites.
Competitiveness concerns in certain industrial sectors, the report
concludes, tend to be the main motivation for making voluntary
agreements. Both in terms of environmental effectiveness and economic
efficiency, however, "economy-wide economic instruments" would in most
cases be "a better policy option than voluntary approaches".
Despite misgivings among environmentalists and some MEPs, the EU has been
moving steadily towards greater use of voluntary agreements in recent
years. Last year the European Commission issued groundrules for
increasing their use at EU level.
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