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Business Response

In the 1970s and early 1980s there were a series of tragic and very public environmental disasters arising from work. There was the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl in Russia, the chemical explosion at Bhopal in India and the chemical release at Seveso in Italy.

Major companies, particularly in the chemical sector, responded with basic "eco-auditing". Each audit was internal and each company did them in different ways. They helped to identify problems in advance. Subsidiaries of US multinationals exported the concept to Europe.

Fact about the International Chamber of Commerce

In the early 1990s it became clearer that industry could not keep fighting the environmental lobby. Industry had to show it was doing something, especially as it played the major role in most economies. But it needed to show what it was doing in its own way.

The International Organization for Standardization was asked to participate at UN Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and create international environmental standards. They were tasked with encouraging both trade liberalization and environment improvements. For trade, they looked to GATT and the newly emerging World trade Organisation. The WTO sets rules to reduce barriers to trade, while the Rio Summit provided the basis for international environmental conventions.

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2002 Edition