Abstract.

The Rio Summit highlighted that global consensus is difficult to achieve. Although some would argue that little of substance was achieved enough was put in place to ensure that the UNCED process will continue, particularly at national level, with significant implications for industry.

The paper briefly reviews the outcomes of the Rio Summit and considers the impacts of the Sustainable Development concept on the Oil Industry. Short term issues discussed include the role of environmental responsiveness in maintaining the industry's 'licence to operate', developing environmental legislation, the cost of compliance, and the potential business opportunities of good environmental and risk management. Examples of the industry's achievements are provided.

The potential longer term impacts of Sustainable Development on business strategies are also considered.

It is stressed that change must be well thought out, based on a better understanding of the science, and a proper analysis of the costs, benefits, alternatives and consequences. Achieving the correct balance will require constructive dialogue between governments, non-governmental organizations, industry academia and the community.

Health, safety and environmental issues are high up the agenda for all industries, but particularly for the energy industry. Our customers, employees, shareholders, legislators and the communities in which we operate are all becoming increasingly aware of HSE issues and demand from us ever higher standards, notably in our environmental performance. Our ability to manage these expectations and related issues will have a significant impact on our future business success. This paper provides a review of the oil industry's position and future role within the environmental debate post the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. 1. IMPACT OF RIO From a global standpoint, the Earth Summit (UNCED) signified an enhanced commitment towards environmentally sound economic and social development. The summit also demonstrated the difficulty of reaching a worldwide consensus on sustainable development in the short term, since even the most worthy of environmental goals touch upon vital national interests. However, there was sufficient agreement to ensure that the UNCED process continues after Rio at both international and national levels.

Rio has provided the necessary momentum to develop policies and programmes aimed at enhancing our use of energy and the world's natural resources. Agenda 21 provides a detailed programme of 115 proposals for the pursuit of sustainable development intended for implementation by national governments. In addition, the two conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity are moving forward, with their associated implications for industry.

The Framework Convention on Climate Change came into effect on March 21st, 1994. Althou

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