During the last years Voluntary Agreements (VA) have been seen as a new policy instrument with increasing importance in environmental policy. In this proposal VA is seen as a contract between the government (or another regulating agency) and a private company, association of companies or other institution. The content of the agreement may vary in relation to eg. targets and means. The private partners may promise to attain certain energy efficiency improvement, emission reduction target, or at least try to do so. The government partner may promise to financially support this endeavour, or promise to refrain from other regulating activities.
To evaluate this kind of regulation a number of empirically and fewer theoretical studies have until now been carried out. The main point of interest has been the negotiation process and the written outcome - the VA-contract. Less interest has been on the implementation process, on the efficiency of the agreements and on understanding the process from the decision to enter a VA until the implementation and the final outcome, e.g. increased energy efficiency and reduced C02-emission.
The aim of the project is to discover under what conditions VA's can be expected to achieve environmental targets in an efficient way. This will be done by formulating a theoretical framework for understanding the content of VAs and the working of VAs in relation to the negotiation and the implementation process. Based on the meta-analysis country case studies will be carried out by the partners. To ensure a broader applicability of the policy recomendations the resutls will be confronted with peers, politician and civil servants form other EU countries and the European Commission. The research questions to be answered are:
What is VA?
- what are the differences between VA in different countries and sectors?
- what are the enforcements problems, which sanctions is used, how are free rider problems solved?
- what are the companies and the governments motives to enter VA?
- what are the relations between the actors? Are they supposed to be changed by VA?
- what is the impact of VA on motivation, information, communication and cooperation between different actors involved?
How does VA work?
- How much energy efficiency improvement has been reached during the period a VA work? Which investments in efficiency improvements had been taken by individual companies during that period? Which of these are strongly influenced by the VA?
- are transaction costs influenced through VA? are abatement costs influenced through VA?
- is asymmetric information between regulator and regulated influenced?
- are barriers in relation to energy efficiency and scope for action influenced through VA?
- are a social change process fostering innovation and adaption of energy efficient technologies and behaviour established or stimulated by VA?
- can differences in the performance of VA, be attributed to differences between countries, industrial segments, institutional set up and regulatory traditions?
Is there a role for VA to play in environmental policy in the future?
- which on a country level? which on a EU level?
The partnership behind the proposal is unique in terms of complementarity, transnaionality and multidiciplinarity.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
223 62 Lund
3584 CH Utrecht