Myths and Realities of Business Environmentalism

Myths and Realities of Business Environmentalism

Good Works, Good Business or Greenwash?

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Kurt A. Strasser

Many businesses profess to be voluntarily taking steps to protect the environment, and going beyond compliance with environmental regulations to do so. Kurt Strasser evaluates these claims in this timely and cutting-edge inquiry.

Chapter 5: Supporting Environmental Management Systems with Regulatory Rewards

Kurt A. Strasser

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, environment, corporate social responsibility, environmental law, law - academic, company and insolvency law, environmental law


One way to support business environmental efforts is with rewards in the regulatory system. In this Chapter, we will consider using such an approach to support environmental management systems. As discussed in Chapter 2, Section C, above, these systems currently contribute to environmental protection, and they have the potential to make more substantial contributions. There is a solid base of empirical evidence that environmental management systems are associated with better company environmental performance and this justifies a policy support of them. Support of successful programs is needed and appropriate. But which programs, and what kinds of support? This chapter will consider the history of such governmental support efforts as a basis for evaluating these questions. Government programs to encourage business volunteers to improve their environmental performance usually seek to motivate companies to go beyond regulatory requirements. These ‘environmental leadership’ programs typically require participants to implement an environmental management system, and they typically grant regulatory rewards to program participants. Indeed, regulatory support for environmental management systems has the best developed practice and history of all the voluntary programs considered, and this chapter will focus on regulatory support to consider the kinds of regulatory rewards which are possible and likely to be effective.1 A number of regulatory programs offer support for environmental management systems in the form of faster and easier granting of environmental permits, flexible emissions standards, fewer inspections, as well as reduced penalties for violations that do occur. European policies also often offer financial support, preferences in public procurement, as...

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