Securing the Future - in Partnership with the Environment
- A.L. Smith (McDermott Marine Construction Ltd.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- June 1996
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 526 - 532
- 1996. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 7.5.3 Professional Registration/Cetification, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 6.5.3 Waste Management, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.6 Natural Gas, 6.5.5 Oil and Chemical Spills, 6.6 Sustainability/Social Responsibility, 7.2.5 Emergency Preparedness and Training, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 6.5.7 Climate Change
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Environmental Management Systems are becoming increasingly important for continued exploration and field development worldwide. The new ISO 14000 EMS series will have a major impact on the competitiveness of the international oil and gas exploration and production industry, including the whole associated service sector. In clarifying the origins of the comparative strategies this paper will provide an understanding of existing national EMS. This will create an international perspective on the management approach needed to ensure that partnership with ISO 14000 will facilitate environmentally sustainable development.
International environmental standards are currently being developed that will direct companies how to manage, measure, improve and communicate the environmental aspects of their operations in a systematic way. The standards will influence the design and manufacture of products, selection of raw materials, marketing, the type of environmental data that is gathered and how those data are communicated internally to governments and the public. Failure to conform to standards adopted in this area could severely restrict trade. Companies who do business internationally will be required to manage their operations in an environmentally responsible fashion.
The Ecological Era
The watershed event was the United Nations Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972. This summed up the awakened global conscience and marked the beginning of a truly ecological era. The conference produced a Declaration of twenty-four principles, and an action plan. The Declaration has had a major influence, being the first general text of international environmental law. Since that time, international organisations and the European Community have developed environmental programmes and authoritative standard enactments based on the notably creative work at Stockholm.
During the past decade, international legal involvement has intensified with deepening awareness and knowledge of environmental problems. Some of the most significant concerns, such as climate change, depletion of the ozone layer, and diminishment of biological diversity, have been recognised as planetary issues. In 1983, the United Nations took the initiative with regard to global problems by establishing the Brundtland Commission and then publishing its report on critical environmental and development issues.
Subsequently, for the twentieth anniversary of the Stockholm Conference, the United Nations convened a global Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, from 3 to 14 June 1992.
The "Earth Summit"
This Conference brought together representatives from 179 governments to focus on the issue of environmentally `sustainable development'. At the completion of the Conference, five major texts were issued (1) Agenda 21, (2) Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, (3) Framework Convention on Climate Change, (4) Convention on Biological Diversity, and (5) Non-binding Statement of Principles on Forests.
The treaties and other documents of the Earth Summit primarily constituted an encouragement for further action, reflecting a global solidarity in the face of planetary environmental problems. This meeting marked a definitive fusion between environmental protection and the sustainable development of countries. The above texts emphasised the essential role and participation of non-governmental organisations in environmental protection.
Agenda 21 - a call for action. Two key messages from the Earth Summit were (1) the interdependence between development and the environment, and (2) the need for partnership between different nations and sectors of society to tackle these complex issues. Implicit in these activities, was that a fundamental shift will be required in the way we do business.
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