Research Handbook on Environment, Health and the WTO
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Research Handbook on Environment, Health and the WTO

Edited by Geert Van Calster and Denise Prévost

This Handbook provides state-of-the-art analysis by leading authors on the links between the international trade regime and health and environment concerns – concerns that make up an increasing proportion of WTO dispute settlement. Research Handbook on Environment, Health and the WTO surveys fields as diverse as climate change mitigation, non-communicable diseases, nanotechnology and public health care. The volume brings to the fore the debates and complexities surrounding these issues and their implications for the international trading system.
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Chapter 5: The International Organization for Standardization: private voluntary standards as swords and shields

David A. Wirth


Corporations may choose to “go green” for any number of reasons, and in any number of ways. Customers or consumers through the marketplace may signal a demand for environmentally friendly goods or services. Alternatively, businesses may consciously choose to cultivate an environmentally responsible image. Concern among the public in the neighborhood of a manufacturing plant may create pressure for greener policies. Firms may retool manufacturing processes in response to demands from workers exposed to hazardous materials. Investments in energy efficiency or reductions in the use of toxic substances may result in significant cost savings, benefiting the firm’s bottom line. Government regulation, the possibility of enforcement, or potential tort liability may also act as incentive-creating mechanisms. Other drivers include the cultivation of environmentally responsible consumer markets and price premiums for environmentally friendly products. Considerations such as these among a wide variety of firms and industries have led to coordinated approaches to addressing environmental concerns in the form of private voluntary standards.

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