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Environmental management and auditing systems: The reality of environmental self‐regulation

Michael Watson (School of Social Sciences, Bath Spa University College, Bath, UK)
Anthony R.T. Emery (School of Social Sciences, Bath Spa University College, Bath, UK)

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Article publication date: 1 September 2004

Abstract

This paper surveys the evidence that environmental auditing systems (EMSs), and the standard setting bodies represented by ISO 14001 and EMAS, have failed to meet their objectives on two counts. First, the standards will not lead to sustainability and second, they will not be any more economically efficient than the command and control approach. We begin by offering an historical overview of environmental standards and argue that the original intentions to link the environmental management standards with sustainability was abandoned during discussions. The opposing viewpoints about ISO 14001 and EMAS as market driven standards are discussed and then the degree of market penetration of the standards is examined. The costs of implementing an EMS are discussed in the context of the Swiss experience, and the costs to SMEs of EMSs outlined. Practical difficulties associated with the standards are considered, and the question asked, “Do EMSs lead to environmental improvement?”

Keywords

Citation

Watson, M. and Emery, A.R.T. (2004), "Environmental management and auditing systems: The reality of environmental self‐regulation", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 19 No. 7, pp. 916-928. https://doi.org/10.1108/02686900410549439

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited