Developing Sustainable Governance Systems at the Regional Level: The Case of Emissions Trading

Developing Sustainable Governance Systems at the Regional Level: The Case of Emissions Trading

Tim Cadman, Margee Hume, Tek Maraseni, Federico Lopez-Casero
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8433-1.ch011
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As a consequence of the United Nations' Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, the international community has effectively redefined environmental degradation as a problem that can be addressed by means of sustainable development. In turn, this places an onus on businesses to develop practices that reflect new norms of behaviour. This chapter offers an overview of current implementation of governance systems that relate to regional sustainability programmes and firms' activities. This work offers credibility to the field of sustainability research and practice by identifying and discussing all actors in the business community and how they interact with sustainability. This chapter looks at market-based sustainability initiatives, and, from a quality of governance perspective, investigates the strengths and weaknesses of two emissions trading schemes. It concludes with a series of reflections on market-based approaches to environmental problem solving.
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Achieving sustainable consumption and sustainable living is a response to the scientific and international communities’ concern that the world is living beyond its ecological systems, facing a potential crisis with regard to its environmental and other resources (Packard, 1960; Daub & Ergenzinger, 2005; Dolan, 2002). Placet, Anderson, & Fowler (2005) argue if goals pertaining to environmental and social responsibility are met, the more likely economic prosperity will follow for the company (Placet, Anderson, & Fowler, 2005; Robins, 1999). The Stern Review (2006) concluded that all individuals, firms and communities, in relation to production of housing, transport and food consumption decisions must unite to develop sustainable change and wellbeing. While solutions to unsustainable consumption involve a diverse stakeholder group they also extend to a diverse range of disciplines and fields including environmental, social and economic paradigms. Consequently, examination into sustainable systems requires a number of different knowledge disciplines to be involved including political science, economics, environmental science, marketing, general business, design, sociology, and consumer behaviour scientists in the design and practice of sustainable living (Tukker et al., 2006; Uiterkamp & Vlek, 2007).

Defining sustainable consumption is difficult because of the multiple perspectives that surround the concept (Peattie & Charter, 1994; Tukker et al., 2006; Christensen, Godskesen, Gram-Hassen, Quitzau, & Ropke, 2007). It is best viewed as an umbrella term that incorporates sustainability’s environmental, social and economic dimensions and takes on such ideas as reducing environmental impact, enhancing quality of life, minimising waste, taking a life cycle approach and looking at ecological preservation for future generations (Kemp, 2008; UNEP, 2002). From a business perspective sustainable practice incorporates all elements of business from inputs procurement, manufacture, packaging design, marketing and more. The goal of sustainable living is to ensure that society is able to be maintained over time and can be applied to all layers of community and business. Solutions to sustainable consumption are multidimensional and involve in most part three parties; governments (policy makers); producers (business); and consumers (Tukker et al., 2006; Connolly & Prothero, 2003). The notion of consumption in this context extends beyond the initial purchase of products to include their manufacture, use and disposal – a concept that is wider than a narrow marketing ideology (Peattie & Charter, 1994; McDonald & Oates, 2006). Managing the interactions of these actors (stakeholders) is proving to be complex, particularly with regard to ensuring the legitimacy of the ‘green’ economy. Close attention needs to be paid to ensuring that the goals of sustainability and good governance are met in business practice on the ground.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Market-Based Mechanisms: Policy programmes, which use the market to solve environmental problems (such as selling reductions in carbon emissions to bring down greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere; or ‘eco-labelling’ to encourage the purchase of ‘green’ products).

Standards: Rules and guidelines for ongoing use agreed to by consensus, and approved by a recognised body, subject to periodic review.

Clean Development Mechanism: A market mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol (1997-2012) for certifying and trading in carbon emissions reduction activities in developing countries.

Verification: The process of ensuring that activities are compliance with standards.

Certification: The issuing of a written document (certificate) by a recognised body attesting to compliance with a given standard.

Sustainability: Meeting the social, environmental and economic needs of present generations, without impacting negatively on future generations.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation: A programme under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which provides finance for activities in developing countries aimed at reducing emissions arising from deforestation (removal of forests by land clearing and clear-fell logging) and forest degradation (reducing the quality of forests through selective clearing and logging).

Accreditation: The process of recognising bodies responsible for overseeing or evaluating activities against standards.

Governance: The structures and processes by which institutions, programmes and projects are steered or coordinated.

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