THE EARTH TIMES
MAY 16 – 31 1998
Q&A RITT BJERREGAARD
Taking the lead on climate change
BY ASHALI VARMA
Develop more sustainably. Is there a move within industry to do this? Is this something that you’ve gotten involved with as far as industry is concerned?
Yes, absolutely, and I have been very encouraged by the involvement of industry in this year’s CSD meeting. We are planning to support all kinds of voluntary agreements from industry. We do have some experience with this in the European Union. Right now, in fact, we are negotiating with all the car manufacturers so that they can make available cars that do not damage the air as much. That means helping to prevent climate change, So I think that we will see more and more responsibility from the industry. I was a little concerned up to Kyoto because the feeling I had was that American industry was not showing the same kind of responsibility. They were lobbying very, very much not to have a result in Kyoto. That has not been the case in Europe. I think the European industrialists have been much more responsible.
Is there a move, as far as the European Union is concerned, toward having companies observe in third-world countries the same environmental standards they honor at home?
I would, definitely, love them to be, and I think that is what has been going on here at the CSD. It is to make industry more responsible wherever it goes in the world. We cannot put the same kind of regulations on them as we can in the European Union because, as you know, if member states in the European Union are not following the regulations, we can take them to court and make them follow the rules. We don’t have that possibility internationally.
In fact, it has always been the point of view of the European Commission that we would like to see our industries, especially our large exporting industries, take with them when they go abroad the same environmental and social standards that they have to home. And if you look at the CSD text, both in relation to water and in relation to industry, you will see, actually, a couple of mentions of that –the same standards at home and abroad.
I know that European industry and Europeans are deeply concerned about ht environment, but since pollution knows no boundaries, how do you get the rest of the world to be equal players?
I think we do it in the way we did it in Kyoto. That is the only way to you can do it—bringing those industrialized countries together and making decisions that are legally binding. Part of the problem, I think, which we will now be facing is that although the American administration was willing at Kyoto to commit themselves—because they do care—it seems as if the American Congressional leaders do not. I think we will all have to try to explain to them that they need to show the same kind of responsibility.