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[greenyes] Fwd: [empowering_democracy] on "voluntary agreements"

To: empowering_democracy@no.address
From: Becky Stanfield <beckystan@no.address>
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 12:09:57 -0400
Subject: Re: [empowering_democracy] FW: on "voluntary agreements"

Here's the link to the pdf.

At 11:08 AM 6/27/03 -0400, Sanford Lewis wrote:


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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Gary Liss
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