Several efforts are underway to standardize measurement procedures. For example, in the automotive industry, manufacturers from Europe, Japan, and the USA, jointly with respective governments, are trying to harmonize exhaust emission measurement methods for heavy-duty diesel vehicles (such as actual running conditions, measurement equipment, and procedures) by 2006. If successful, the automobile manufacturers association intends to ask their respective governments to mandate the outcome.
Other international standards are set by the Organization for International Standardization (ISO). The ISO has begun to establish international Environmental Management standards in its 14000 series. The first standard among them (ISO 14001, Environmental Management Standard or EMS) was published in 1996 (ISO, 1996).
ISO environmental standards are framework standards and do not set any performance standards. They are flexible to facilitate application by a wide variety of organizations throughout the world. An organization can select any environmental aspects (such as emissions to air and/or water, ozone depletion, climate change, etc.) it considers important for its activities. This means that the standards may be effective as tools to cope with global warming if they are utilized for that purpose. In December 1997, the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI) of the OECD and the ISO issued a Joint Statement concerning the potential contribution of international standards to climate change (ISO, 1998a). In 1998, ISO established a Climate Technology Task Force to review the application of the ISO 14000 series to climate change (ISO, 1998b).
In January 2000, ISOs Technical Management Board established an Ad Hoc Group on Climate Change (AHGCC) to develop a comprehensive ISO strategy for climate change. While ISO has not ratified a climate change strategy, the AHGCC has identified several areas in which the development and use of ISO standards may help facilitate implementation of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, including (among others):
Several voluntary initiatives that have an international impact have been identified. For instance, various multinational firms have undertaken voluntary actions to cope with climate change, including setting up emissions trading systems and engaging in trades.
A VA was concluded in July 1998 between the EC and the European Automobile Manufactures Association (ACEA). The EC subsequently negotiated a similar agreement with Japanese and Korean car manufacturers. The agreements are expected to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars in 2008 by 25% below the 1995 level. Implementation is contingent on several preconditions, such as fuel quality improvement. The EC has been engaged in discussions with European industry associations regarding a possible VA on energy efficiency in televisions and videocassette recorders (EEA, 1997).
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Statement by Financial Institutions on the Environment and Sustainable Development and the UNEP Insurance Initiative may be classified as international VAs. Banks and insurance companies that sign these initiatives have to pay attention to environmental protection in their management and in their product selections and operations. These initiatives are not binding and no monitoring of conduct has been carried out. In addition, the territorial distribution of the signing banks and insurance companies is uneven; participation from developing countries and the USA is rare, and no Japanese banks signed the Financial Institutions Initiative.
Some domestic VAs may evolve as de facto international VAs. The Energy Star programme began in 1992 as a voluntary partnership between the US DOE, the US Environmental Protection Agency, product manufacturers, and others. Partners promote energy efficient products by labelling them with the Energy Star logo and educating consumers about the benefits of energy efficiency.77 A similar programme has started in Japan, and several European governments and manufacturers are considering setting up similar programmes. No analyses of the costs and impacts of these programmes are available.
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