Shaping Climate Change Policy
ESRI Studies Series on the Environment
Lisa Ryan and Hal Turton
In recent years there has been a trend towards voluntary approaches (VAs) in environmental policymaking in the EU and other OECD countries, particularly Japan, instead of the previously favoured command and control regulations. Voluntary approaches are deﬁned as ‘commitments from polluting ﬁrms or sectors to improve their environmental performance’ (Higley et al., 2001) beyond regulatory requirements. They have become important in most regions as an alternative instrument in environmental policy and have been used to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in many sectors. This chapter will begin generally, describing the types of agreements and the theory of their design. Box 9.1 describes the theoretical context of voluntary agreements in environmental policy. The chapter proceeds with speciﬁc examples of this instrument applied to greenhouse gas reduction in transport, where possible, and also to other environmental questions. The policy and economic literature divides VAs into three categories: unilateral commitments made by polluting ﬁrms, public voluntary schemes and negotiated environmental agreements between a sector and public authorities (Higley et al., 2001). Unilateral commitments consist of environmental actions undertaken by ﬁrms and communicated to their stakeholders (employees, shareholders, clients and so on). There is no government intervention; the ﬁrms themselves determine the deﬁnition of environmental targets and the conditions of compliance (OECD, 2003). Firms can involve a third party (such as the International Standards Organisation, ISO) to certify the environmental eﬀects of the commitment. Public voluntary schemes invite ﬁrms to meet speciﬁed standards established by public authorities such as environmental...
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