Rethinking Voluntary Approaches in Environmental Policy
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Rethinking Voluntary Approaches in Environmental Policy

Rory Sullivan

The book systematically analyses three initiatives (environmental management systems, the Australian Greenhouse Challenge and the Australian mining industry’s Code for Environmental Management) and their contribution to public environmental policy. By moving the debate away from narrow considerations of economic efficiency towards a broader framework that accounts for the multiple goals to which environmental policy needs to be directed, this book significantly enhances our understanding of the role that voluntary approaches can play in achieving environmental policy goals.
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Chapter 3: Environmental Policy Instruments

Rory Sullivan


INTRODUCTION Public policy can be defined as a plan of action (or a decision not to take action) undertaken by a government to achieve some broad purpose affecting a substantial segment of a nation’s citizens (Hill, 1997: 8–10). In this context, environmental policy instruments can be defined as the tools used to implement public environmental policy. Environmental policy instruments may be divided into four generic categories, namely command and control instruments, economic instruments, information-based strategies and voluntary approaches. The first three of these are described briefly below, followed by a more comprehensive review of the literature on voluntary approaches and a discussion of the manner in which voluntary approaches fit into the overall regulatory space. Command and Control Instruments Historically, command and control regulation has been the dominant government response to environmental issues. At its simplest, command and control regulation involves the promulgation of a set of rules, together with mechanisms (for example, monitoring requirements, enforcement processes) for ensuring that the rules are complied with (Baldwin et al., 1998: 3). Command and control instruments can be divided into three broad categories: design standards, performance standards and process standards (Gunningham and Sinclair, 1999a: 53). Design standards require that an approved technology be used for a particular process or for a specific environmental problem. Performance standards define the outcomes that must be achieved, but do not generally define the design or process which must be utilized, and process standards specify the procedures to be followed to achieve a defined result but...

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