The Impact on Industry and Competitiveness
Chapter 4: The Industry and its Environmental Impacts
ISSUES AND DEBATES Since the late 1970s, the international iron and steel industry has been transformed. From an industry characterized by a number of mostly stateowned firms, it is now globalized and in the process has undergone massive restructuring, privatization, increases in capital intensity, product specialization and increased levels of trading. During this time, and with gradually increasing intensity, there has also been a greater focus on the environmental impacts of the industry, with consequent adoption of environmental technologies, cleaner process technologies and environmental management strategies. This case study of the steel sector documents these developments and argues that environmental responses by firms have not led to ‘pollution haven’ investments or vast increases in production by ‘dirty’ producers in developing and transitional economies. Rather than explaining sectoral change in terms of environmental regulations and firm responses, it is more important to place environmental issues within the context of a complex global restructuring of the sector, in terms of factors of production, output and trade. A snapshot of the sector after two decades of environmental awareness reveals wide variations across firms, with different strategies having been adopted. Many of these strategies are linked to international business innovations such as the ISO 9.000 and ISO 14.000 series for quality and environmental management, national and regional economic development policies, and global patterns of steel trading. Other strategies are highly localized, having been adopted in response to environmental regulations at regional and municipal levels or from pressures emanating from civil society and other stakeholder...
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