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But it did not hold those responsible for ozone depletion legally accountable, nor did it provide for compensating persons or countries that have suffered from ozone depletion. Even where liability issues have been generally acknowledged in international law—e. Emphasizing Environmental Restoration. Given how far we have come in damaging the global environment, international environmental efforts in the future will have to be focused more on environmental restoration than protection.

Although more expensive and less effective than protecting resources in the first place, restoration may sometimes be the only choice left. Environmental restoration is now a dynamic part of domestic environmental management and will undoubtedly begin to inform future global environmental negotiations. In this country, for example, the increasing trend toward removal of dams, reintroduction of endangered species, and large-scale restoration projects—like the attempt to recover the Florida Everglades—portends a future focus of international cooperation.

As an example, international aid agencies are discussing whether to undertake a massive effort to restore coastal mangroves and interior watersheds in Central America. As a result, Hurricane Mitch struck with greater devastation. Addressing Persistent Chemicals.

These chemicals persist in the environment and accumulate in human and animal tissues. Many of them have been linked to cancer and to adverse affects on human endocrine systems. Although most countries concur on how to regulate the twelve chemicals currently identified in the agreement, major differences exist about how to add new chemicals to the list of globally regulated or prohibited substances. Also critical to any global accord will be the decision about whether countries that are the source of existing stockpiles of phased-out chemicals should be responsible for their disposal.

Water Shortages. Most experts agree that access to fresh water may be the most important natural resource issue for the next century. With world population expected to double in the next 50 years and with water consumption historically increasing at twice the rate of population, our global water situation is bleak. To make matters worse, water is allocated unevenly around the globe. Regional water shortages may thus exacerbate international conflicts and threaten national security if international management efforts are not successful.

A UN convention on transnational water uses provides a beginning framework for managing these regional disputes, but long-term financial and political leadership from the United States and other powerful countries will be required for the convention to be successful. Consumption Levels. The Earth Summit recognized explicitly that achieving sustainability would require addressing both population and consumption.

The United States, in particular, has blocked international efforts to address consumption levels. Domestically, the U. In the next century, no serious effort at achieving sustainable development will be able to avoid tackling the issue of Northern consumption levels and patterns.

This global environmental treaty regulates the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and obliges its parties to ensure that such wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. It also protects the right of states to ban entry of foreign waste into their territories. The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed by over governments at the Rio Earth Summit in and entered into force in The convention was signed on June 4, , but the United States has failed to ratified it.

The United States signed the treaty on June 12, , ratified it on October 15, , and entered it into force in the United States on March 21, Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change The agreement sets, for the first time, legally binding limits on the heat-trapping greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The convention came into effect in and has over parties. The United States has signed but not ratified the convention. More than countries are members. Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer The Montreal Protocol—and subsequent revisions—is the primary international regime for controlling the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances such as CFCs, halons, and methyl bromide.

As of June , states, including virtually all major industrialized countries and most developing countries, had become parties to the protocol. The United States signed the protocol on September 16, , and ratified it on April 21, The protocol and its subsequent revisions modified the original Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. No single institution legislates or manages international environmental problems. Scores of official and semiofficial organizations and agencies have at least some environmental mandate.


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In the future, global environmental governance will continue to involve an array of multilateral, national, and intergovernmental organizations together with citizen groups and treaties. This is as it should be, given that the concept of sustainable development embraces so many different disciplines and issues. No one organization has the authority or political strength to serve as a central clearinghouse or coordinator. In recent years, financial and political support of UNEP has lagged, and most observers question whether it can effectively champion environmental issues within the UN system.

The result is that international environmental governance is still spread across too many institutions with diffuse, conflicting, or weak authorities. Given these problems in the UN architecture for international environmental governance, there may be no escaping the need for broad institutional reform. Several important leaders have called for such reform.

Other specific proposals have been advanced, including the creation of an environmental organization with powers analogous to that of the World Trade Organization. Such an organization could consolidate the different environmental secretariats and UNEP, creating one organization responsible for ensuring the implementation and enforcement of environmental treaties. If a binding set of principles existed, a World Environmental Organization could also resolve environmental disputes more efficiently than can the current processes.

Less ambitious, and perhaps more realistic in the short term, would be to strengthen the growing number of regional environmental institutions that are being established to manage shared natural resources. For example, the International Joint Commission between the U. Regional fisheries management organizations are also emerging in many areas of the world and have been given potentially strong enforcement powers under recently negotiated global fisheries agreements.

The concept of sustainable development requires the integration of environmental concerns into the fields of international trade, investment, and finance. Since the Earth Summit, environmentalists have made significant advances. Environmental issues are now legitimate concerns for discussion at such organizations as the World Bank and the WTO. Indeed most of the international financial institutions, e.

Even the IMF has created an environmental unit albeit thus far with only one person. Despite these policy and staffing advances, the successful practical integration of the environment and the global economy lags far behind. The approach of the international financial institutions IFIs continues to emphasize mitigating environmental impacts from poorly designed and inappropriate projects, rather than finding ways to proactively promote environmentally sustainable development.

More importantly, the IFIs and trade institutions have not fundamentally reconsidered their general approach to building a global economy in light of the constraints implied by the concept of sustainable development. As a result, these institutions have failed to reduce significantly their adverse impact on the global environment.

Global Financial Architecture and the Environment. In light of the role that foreign capital flight played in precipitating the Asian and Russian economic crises, an increasing number of people have begun to question the dominant global economic prescription offered by the IMF and the World Bank. This prescription has long been promoted by the U. Department of Treasury as a critical component of U. As these capital investments have increasingly become short-term and speculative, the social utility of protecting capital flows is increasingly questionable. Protecting the rights of countries to impose capital controls, particularly on short-term investments, may be critical for ensuring both long-term stability and increased benefits from natural resources for local people.

Over the past decade, environmentalists have also shown that the IFIs frequently saddle developing countries with loan conditions that increase the pressures on natural resource exploitation with devastating environmental consequences. Among other things, these structural adjustment policies SAPs significantly increase the rate of forest harvesting, mining, and fishery harvests.

While these SAPs are increasing natural resource exploitation, many governments are also being directed to reduce public spending, including funds for environmental protection and natural resource management. To make matters worse, large structural adjustment loan packages heap additional debt onto already heavily indebted countries. But the United States must take a much greater leadership role in prodding the World Bank and the IMF to make broader and deeper cuts in developing country debt. Such a step could help alleviate the pressures on low-income countries to exploit their environments in order to service their foreign debts.

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Greening International Trade. Negotiated by the outgoing Bush administration, NAFTA originally avoided addressing the environmental or labor aspects of free trade. Despite occasional promises to the contrary, free trade has become the paramount value driving most U. Lost is the balanced goal of integrating environment and trade as pronounced at the Earth Summit and subsequently in the environmental side agreement to NAFTA. Ultimately, the problem may be that liberalizing trade and investment is too often viewed as a positive goal in its own right. Lost is any critical analysis of whether such liberalization always leads to improvements in human welfare and quality of life.

Goals such as environmental protection, human rights, and social equity—which are arguably more closely linked to human welfare than is liberalized trade—have been relegated to the back seat during the drive toward free trade. JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser. Environment, Science and Society Free Preview. Buy eBook. Buy Softcover. FAQ Policy. Show all. Pages Savornin Lohman, Lex. First, in poor countries the loss of a breadwinner through illness, injury or death can force the other members of a family to exploit natural resources to maintain income levels.

If a number of families are affected then the cumulative impacts may be locally significant. Secondly, the health of family members can be affected, directly, by chemicals brought into the home on the clothes of workers. So there is a direct link between the internal and external environments. The inclusion of the internal environment in EIA has received little attention in the EIA literature and is conspicuous by its absence from EIA laws, regulations and guidelines.

Perhaps the most frequent issue raised by those who are either opposed to EIA or are neutral towards it concerns the cost. Preparation of EISs takes time and resources, and, in the end, this means money. It is important, therefore, to consider the economic aspects of EIA. The main costs of introducing EIA procedures into a country fall on project investors or proponents, and central or local government depending on the nature of the procedures.

In virtually all countries, project investors or proponents pay for preparation of EIAs for their projects. Similarly, initiators usually government agencies of sectoral investment strategies and regional development plans pay for their EIAs. Evidence from developed and developing countries indicates that the cost of preparing EISs ranges from 0. This proportion can increase when mitigating measures recommended in the EISs are taken into account. The cost depends on the type of mitigation recommended.

Obviously, resettling 5, families in such a way that their standard of living is maintained is a relatively costly exercise.

Such figures may seem to be excessive and to indicate that EIA is a financial burden. There is no doubt that EIA costs money, but in the experience of the author no major projects have been halted because of the costs of EIA preparation, and in only a few cases have projects been made uneconomical because of the costs of necessary mitigating measures.

EIA procedures also impose costs to central or local governments which arise from the staff and other resources which need to be directed to managing the system and processing and reviewing the EISs. Again, the cost depends on the nature of the procedure and how many EISs are produced per year.

The author is not aware of any calculations which attempt to provide an average figure for this cost. To return to our medical analogy, prevention of illness requires a significant up-front investment to ensure future and possibly long-term dispersed benefits in terms of the health of the population, and EIA is no different.

The financial benefits can be examined from the perspectives of the proponent as well as those of the government and the wider society. The proponent can benefit in a number of ways:. Not all of these will operate in all cases, but it is useful to consider the ways in which savings can accrue to the proponent.

In all countries various permits, permissions and authorizations are needed before a project can be implemented and operated.

Human Rights

The authorization procedures take time, and this can be extended if there is opposition to a project and no formal mechanism exists by which concerns may be identified, considered and investigated. There seems little doubt that the days of passive populations welcoming all development as signs of inevitable economic and social progress are nearly over. In this context, EIA provides a mechanism for public concerns to be addressed, if not eliminated. Indeed, a study by British Gas in the late s showed that the average time taken to obtain authorization was shorter with EIA than for similar projects without EIA.

The add-on costs of mitigation have been mentioned, but it is worth considering the opposite situation. For facilities which produce one or more waste streams, the EIA may identify mitigation measures which reduce the waste load by use of recovery or recycling processes. In the former case recovery of a component from a waste stream might enable the proponent to sell it if a market is available and cover the costs of the recovery process or even make a profit.

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Recycling of an element such as water can reduce consumption, thus lowering expenditure on raw material inputs. If an EIA has focused on the internal environment, then the working conditions should be better than would have been the case without the EIA. A cleaner, safer workplace reduces worker discontent, illness and absences. The overall effect is likely to be a more productive workforce, which again is a financial benefit to the proponent or operator.

Finally, the favoured option selected using solely technical and economic criteria may, in fact, not be the best alternative. In Botswana, a site had been selected for water to be stored before it was transported to Gaborone the capital. An EIA was implemented and it was found, early in the EIA work, that the environmental impacts would be significantly adverse.

During survey work, the EIA team identified an alternative site which they were given permission to include in the EIA. The alternative site comparison showed that the environmental impacts of the second option were much less severe. Technical and economic studies showed that the site met technical and economic criteria. Unsurprisingly, the second option has been implemented, to the benefit not only to the proponent a parastatal organization but to the entire tax-paying population of Botswana.

The main benefits of EIA procedures are dispersed amongst the component parts of society, such as government, communities and individuals. This is a long-term and dispersed benefit. In specific instances, EIA can avoid localized environmental damage which would necessitate remedial measures usually expensive at a later date. The cost of remedial measures usually falls on local or central government and not the proponent or operator of the installation which caused the damage. Until recently the objectives of development were to improve economic and social conditions in a specified area.

This debate had some meaning when environment was on the outside of the development process and looking in. Now the environment is becoming central and the debate is centred on mechanisms of having both jobs and a healthy environment linked in a sustainable manner.


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  • EIA still has a crucial and expanding contribution to make as one of the important mechanisms for moving towards, and achieving, sustainability. The need to safeguard the environment for future generations makes it necessary not only to discuss the emerging environmental problems, but to make progress in identifying strategies that are cost-effective and environmentally sound to solve them and to take actions to enforce the measures that result from such discussion. There is ample evidence that enhancing the state of the environment as well as establishing policies to sustain the environment must take on greater priority within this generation and those that follow.

    While this belief is commonly held by governments, environmental groups, industry, academics and the general public, there is considerable debate on how to achieve improved environmental conditions without sacrificing current economic benefits. Furthermore, environmental protection has become an issue of great political importance, and ensuring ecological stability has been pushed to the top of many political agendas. Past and present efforts to protect the environment are to a large extent characterized as single-issue approaches.

    Each problem has been dealt with on a case-by-case basis. With regard to problems caused by point-source pollution from easily identified emissions, this was an effective way of reducing environmental impacts. Today, the situation is more complex. Much pollution now originates from a large number of non-point sources easily transported from one country to another. Furthermore, each of us contributes to this total environmental pollution load through our daily patterns of living. The different non-point sources are difficult to identify, and the way in which they interact in impacting the environment is not well known.

    The increasing environmental problems of more complex and global character will most likely entail great implications for several sectors of society in enforcing remedial actions.

    The Ten Principles | UN Global Compact

    Therefore, it is important that all areas of sectoral interest be coordinated in their environmental ambitions, in order to get necessary interactions and responses to proposed solutions. It is likely that there may be a unanimous view with regard to the ultimate objectives of better environmental quality. However, it is equally likely that there may be disagreement about the pace, means and time required to achieve them. Environmental protection has become a strategic issue of increasing importance for industry and the business sector, both in the siting of plants and in the technical performance of processes and products.

    Industrialists are increasingly becoming interested in being able to look holistically at the environmental consequences of their operations. Legislation is no longer the sole dimensioning factor following the growing importance of product-related environmental issues. Indeed, this is a great challenge for industry; yet environmental criteria are often not considered at the beginning of the design of a product, when it may be easiest to avoid adverse impacts.

    Until recently, most environmental impacts were reduced through end-of-pipe controls and process design rather than product design. As a result, many companies spend too much time fixing problems instead of preventing them. The only known concept to deal with all these new complex issues seems to be a life-cycle approach to the problem. Life-cycle assessments LCAs have been widely recognized as an environmental management tool for the future, as product-related issues assume a more central role in the public debate.

    Although LCAs promise to be a valuable tool for programmes on cleaner production strategies and design for the environment, the concept is relatively new and will require future refinement to be accepted as a general tool for environmentally sound process and product development. The necessary new approach to environmental protection in the business sector, to look at products and services in their totality, must be linked to development of a common, systematic and structured approach which enables relevant decisions to be made and priorities to be set.

    Such an approach must be flexible and expandable to cover various decision-making situations in industry as well as new input as science and technology progress. The problem identification ought to highlight different types of environmental problems and their causes. These judgements are multidimensional, taking into account various background conditions. There is indeed a close relationship between the work environment and the external environment. The ambition to safeguard the environment should therefore include two dimensions: to minimize the burden on the external environment following all kinds of human activities, and to promote the welfare of employees in terms of a well-planned and safe work environment.

    A survey of potential remedial measures should include all the available practical alternatives for minimizing both pollutant emissions and the use of non-renewable natural resources. The technical solutions should be described, if possible, giving their expected value both in reducing resource use and pollution loads as well as in monetary terms.

    Global environmental policy : concepts, principles, and practice

    However, experience has shown that great difficulties often arise when seeking to express environmental assets in monetary terms. The assessment and evaluation phase should be regarded as an integral part of the procedure of setting priorities to give the necessary input for the final judgement of the efficiency of the suggested remedial measures.

    The continuous exercise of assessment and evaluation following any measure that is implemented or enforced will give additional feedback for optimization of a general decision model for environmental priority strategies for product decision. The strategic value of such a model will likely increase in industry when it becomes gradually apparent that environmental priorities might be an equally important part of the future planning procedure for new processes or products.

    As LCA is a tool for identifying the environmental releases and evaluating the associated impacts caused by a process, product or activity, it will likely serve as the major vehicle for industry in their search for practical and user-friendly decision-making models for environmentally sound product development. The concept of LCA is to evaluate the environmental effects associated with any given activity from the initial gathering of raw material from the earth until the point at which all residuals are returned to the earth.

    While the practice of conducting life-cycle studies has existed since the early s, there have been few comprehensive attempts to describe the full procedure in a manner that would facilitate understanding of the overall process, the underlying data requirements, the inherent assumptions and possibilities to make practical use of the methodology. However, since a number of reports have been published focusing on describing the various parts of a LCA from a theoretical viewpoint Heijungs ; Vigon et al.

    A few practical guides and handbooks have been published taking on the specific perspectives of product designers in making practical use of a complete LCA in environmentally sound product development Ryding LCA has been defined as an objective process to evaluate the environmental burdens associated with a process, product, activity or service system by identifying and quantifying energy and materials used and released to the environment in order to assess the impact of those energy and material uses and releases to the environment, and to evaluate and implement opportunities to effect environmental improvements.

    The assessment includes the entire life cycle of the process, product, activity or service system, encompassing extracting and processing raw materials, manu-facturing, transportation and distribution, use, reuse, maint-enance, recycling and final disposal. The prime objectives of carrying out LCA are to provide as complete a picture as possible of the interactions of an activity with the environment, to contribute to the understanding of the overall and interdependent nature of environmental consequences of human activities and to provide decision-makers with information which identifies opportunities for environmental improvements.

    The LCA methodological framework is a stepwise calculation exercise comprising four components: goal definition and scoping, inventory analysis, impact assessment and interpretation. As one component of a broader methodology, none of these components alone can be described as an LCA. LCA ought to include all four. In many cases life-cycle studies focus on the inventory analysis and are usually referred to as LCI life-cycle inventory. When initiating an LCA study, it is of vital importance to clearly define the goal of the study, preferably in terms of a clear and unambiguous statement of the reason for carrying out the LCA, and the intended use of the results.

    A key consideration is to decide whether the results should be used for in-company applications to improve the environmental performance of an industrial process or a product, or whether the results should be used externally, for example, to influence public policy or consumer purchase choices. Without setting a clear goal and purpose for the LCA study in advance, the inventory analysis and the impact assessment may be overdone, and the final results may not be properly used for practical decisions.

    To meet these demands it is sometimes necessary to arrive at a highly aggregated form of the environmental impact assessment which in turn emphasizes the need for identifying a general accepted valuation approach for a scoring system to weigh the different environmental effects against each other.

    The scope of an LCA defines the system, boundaries, data requirements, assumptions and limitations. The scope should be defined well enough to ensure that the breadth and depth of analysis are compatible with and sufficient to address the stated purpose and all boundaries, and that assumptions are clearly stated, comprehensible and visible. However, as an LCA is an iterative process, it may be advisable in some cases not to permanently fix all aspects included in the scope.

    The use of sensitivity and error analysis is recommended to make possible the successive testing and validation of the purpose and scope of the LCA study versus the results obtained, in order to make corrections and set new assumptions. Inventory analysis is an objective, data-based process of quantifying energy and raw material requirements, air emissions, waterborne effluents, solid waste and other environmental releases throughout the life cycle of a process, product, activity or service system figure The calculation of inputs and outputs in the inventory analysis refers to the system defined.

    In many cases, processing operations yield more than one output, and it is important to break down such a complex system into a series of separate sub-processes, each of which produces a single product. During the production of a construction material, pollutant emissions occur in each sub-process, from raw material acquisition to the final product. When added together, these sub-processes have the total characteristics of the original single system of co-products.

    To estimate the accuracy of the data gained in the inventory analysis, a sensitivity and error analysis is recommended. The use of a sensitivity and error analysis will identify the key data of great importance for the outcome of the LCA study that may need further efforts to increase its reliability. The assessment should address both ecological and human health considerations, as well as other effects such as habitat modifications and noise pollution.

    Classification is the step in which the inventory analyses are grouped together into a number of impact categories; characterization is the step in which analysis and quantification takes place, and, where possible, aggregation of the impacts within the given impact categories is carried out; valuation is the step in which the data of the different specific impact categories are weighted so that they can be compared amongst themselves to arrive at a further interpretation and aggregation of the data of the impact assessment. In the classification step, the impacts may be grouped in the general protection areas of resource depletion, ecological health and human health.

    These areas may be further divided into specific impact categories, preferably focusing on the environ-mental process involved, to allow a perspective consistent with current scientific knowledge about these processes. A further approach is to normalize the aggregated data for each impact category to the actual magnitude of the impacts in some given area, to increase the comparability of the data from the different impact categories.

    Valuation, with the aim of further aggregating the data of the impact assessment, is the LCA component that has probably generated the most heated debates. Some approaches, often referred to as decision theory techniques, are claimed to have the potential to make the valuation a rational, explicit method. Valuation principles may rest on scientific, political or societal judgements, and there are currently approaches available that cover all three perspectives. Of special importance is the use of sensitivity and error analysis.

    The sensitivity analysis enables the identification of those selected valuation criteria that may change the resultant priority between two process or product alternatives because of the uncertainties in the data. The error analysis may be used to indicate the likelihood of one alternative product being more environmentally benign than a competitor product. Many are of the opinion that valuations have to be based largely on information about social values and preferences. However, no one has yet defined the specific requirements that a reliable and generally accepted valuation method should meet.

    Figure For such valuations it is probably not possible to establish criteria which are tenable in all situations worldwide. Interpretation of the results is a systematic evaluation of the needs and opportunities to reduce the environmental burden associated with energy and raw materials use and waste emissions throughout the whole life cycle of a product, process or activity. This assessment may include both quantitative and qualitative measures of improvements, such as changes in product design, raw material use, industrial processing, consumer demands and waste management.

    Interpretation of the results is the component of an LCA in which options for reducing the environmental impacts or burdens of the processes or products under study are identified and evaluated. It deals with the identification, evaluation and selection of options for improvements in processes and product design, that is, technical redesign of a process or product to minimize the associated environmental burden while fulfilling the intended function and performance characteristics.

    It is important to guide the decision-maker regarding the effects of the existing uncertainties in the background data and the criteria used in achieving the results, to decrease the risk of making false conclusions regarding the processes and products under study. Again, a sensitivity and error analysis is needed to gain credibility for the LCA methodology as it provides the decision-maker with information on 1 key parameters and assumptions, which may need to be further considered and refined to strengthen the conclusions, and 2 the statistical significance of the calculated difference in total environmental burden between the process or product alternatives.

    The interpretation component has been identified as the part of an LCA that is least documented. However, preliminary results from some large LCA studies carried out as comprehensive efforts by people from academia, consultancy firms and many companies all indicated that, from a general perspective, significant environmental burdens from products seem to be linked to the product use figure Hence, the potential seems to exist for industry-motivated initiatives to minimize environmental impacts through product development.

    A study on international experiences of environmentally sound product development based on LCA Ryding indicated that promising general applications of LCA seem to be 1 for internal use by corporations to form the basis for providing guidance in long-term strategic planning concerning product design, but also 2 to some extent for use by regulatory agencies and authorities to suit general purposes of societal planning and decision-making.

    Knowledge about human threats to the environment seems to grow faster than our ability to solve them. Therefore, decisions in the environmental arena must often be taken with greater uncertainties present than those in other areas. Furthermore, very small safety margins usually exist. Present ecological and technical knowledge is not always sufficient to offer a complete, fool-proof strategy to safeguard the environment. It is not possible to gain full understanding of all ecological responses to environmental stress before taking action. However, the absence of complete, irrefutable scientific evidence should not discourage making decisions about and implementation of pollution abatement programmes.

    Hence, the meaning and scope of most problems is already known to a sufficient extent to justify action, and there is, in many cases, sufficient knowledge at hand to initiate effective remedial measures for most environmental problems. Life-cycle assessment offers a new concept to deal with the future complex environmental issues. However, there are no shortcuts or simple answers to all questions posed.

    The rapidly emerging adoption of a holistic approach to combat environmental problems will most likely identify a lot of gaps in our knowledge about new aspects that need to be dealt with. Also, available data that may be used are in many cases intended for other purposes. Despite all difficulties, there is no argument for waiting to use LCA until it gets better.

    It is by no means hard to find difficulties and uncertainties in the present LCA concept, if one wants to use such arguments to justify an unwillingness to conduct an LCA. One has to decide whether it is worthwhile to seek a holistic life-cycle approach to environmental aspects despite all difficulties. The more LCA is used, the more knowledge will be gained about its structure, function and applicability, which will be the best guarantee for a feedback to ensure its successive improvement.

    To make use of LCA today may be more a question of will and ambition than of undisputed knowledge. The whole idea of LCA ought to be to make the best use of present scientific and technical knowledge and to make use of the result in an intelligent and humble way. Such an approach will most likely gain credibility.

    Adrian V. Government, industry and the community recognize the need to identify, assess and control the industrial risks occupational and public to people and the environment. Awareness of hazards and of the accidents that may result in significant loss of life and property have led to the development and application of systematic approaches, methods and tools for risk assessment and communication.

    The risk assessment process involves: system description, the identification of hazards and the development of accident scenarios and outcomes for events associated with a process operation or a storage facility; the estimation of the effects or consequences of such hazardous events on people, property and the environment; the estimation of the probability or likelihood of such hazardous events occurring in practice and of their effects, accounting for the different operational and organizational hazard controls and practices; the quantification of ensuing risk levels outside the plant boundaries, in terms of both consequences and probabilities; and the assessment of such risk levels by reference to quantified risk criteria.

    The process of quantified risk assessment is probabilistic in nature. Because major accidents may or may not occur over the entire life of a plant or a process, it is not appropriate to base the assessment process on the consequences of accidents in isolation. The likelihood or probability of such accidents actually occurring should be taken into account. Such probabilities and resultant risk levels should reflect the level of design, operational and organizational controls available at the plant.

    There are a number of uncertainties associated with the quantification of risk e. The risk assessment process should, in all cases, expose and recognize such uncertainties. The main value of the quantified risk assessment process should not rest with the numerical value of the results in isolation. The assessment process itself provides significant opportunities for the systematic identification of hazards and evaluation of risk.

    The risk assessment process provides for the identification and recognition of hazards and enables the allocation of relevant and appropriate resources to the hazards control process. The objectives and uses of the hazard identification process HIP will determine in turn the scope of the analysis, the appropriate procedures and methods, and the personnel, expertise, funding and time required for the analysis, as well as the associated documentation necessary.

    Hazard identification is an efficient and necessary procedure to assist risk analysts and decision making for risk assessment and management of occupational safety and health. A number of major objectives may be identified:. The first general objective aims at extending the general understanding of the important issues and situations that might affect the risk analysis process for individual plants and processes; the synergy of individual hazards to the area study level has its special significance.

    Design and operational problems can be identified and a hazard classification scheme can be considered. The second objective contains elements of risk assessment and deals with accident scenario development and interpretation of results. Consequence evaluation of various accidents and their impact propagation in time and space has special significance in the hazard identification phase. The third objective aims at providing information that can later assist further steps in risk assessment and plant operations safety management.

    This may be in the form of improving the scenario specifications for risk analysis or identifying appropriate safety measures to comply with given risk criteria e. After defining objectives, the definition of the scope of the HIP study is the second most relevant element in the management, organization and implementation of the HIP.

    The scope of the HIP in a complex risk assessment study can be described mainly in terms of the following parameters: 1 potential sources of hazards e. The relevant factors that determine the extent to which these parameters are included in the HIP are: a the objectives and intended uses of the HIP; b the availability of appropriate information and data; and c the available resources and expertise.

    Hazard identification requires the consideration of all relevant information regarding the facility e. This might typically include: site and plant layout; detailed process information in the form of engineering diagrams and operating and maintenance conditions; the nature and quantities of materials being handled; operational, organizational and physical safeguards; and design standards. In dealing with the external consequences of an accident, a number of such consequences may result e. The consequences of major accidents to the environment are more difficult to estimate due to the variety of substances that can be involved, as well as the number of environmental impact indicators relevant in a given accident situation.

    Usually, a utility scale is associated with various environmental consequences; the relevant utility scale could include events related to incidents, accidents or catastrophic outcomes. Evaluating monetary consequences of potential accidents requires a detailed estimate of possible consequences and their associated costs. A monetary value for special classes of consequences e. The monetary evaluation of consequences should also include external costs, which are very often difficult to assess.

    The procedures for identifying hazardous situations which may arise in process plants and equipment are generally considered to be the most developed and well established element in the assessment process of hazardous installations. It must be recognized that 1 the procedures and techniques vary in terms of comprehensiveness and level of detail, from comparative checklists to detailed structured logic diagrams, and 2 the procedures may apply at various stages of project formulation and implementation from the early decision-making process to determine the location of a plant, through to its design, construction and operation.

    Techniques for hazard identification essentially fall into three categories. The following indicates the most commonly used techniques within each category. The appropriateness and relevancy of any one particular technique of hazard identification largely depend on the purpose for which the risk assessment is being undertaken.