Environmental regulation, sustainability and risk

J. Campbell Gemmell, E. Marian Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This paper aims to provide an overview of environmental regulation and recent trends and developments in this area, rooted in the practical regulatory implementation activities of EPAs worldwide and drawing connection to sustainability, environmental risks, economics and environmental justice.

The design and methodology in developing “Better (Environmental) Regulation” is addressed drawn on experiences from different regulatory systems. It addresses the linkages between environment, economy, regulation and sustainability and adopts and develops Sparrow's approach to a focus on tackling harms.

A range of challenges in policy and practice terms – e.g. economic growth versus sustainability – is described. Arguments against the political economy convention of reducing burdens are made and a spectrum of compliance for regulators is offered, leading to a proposed agenda to help deliver better regulation generally.

Research limitations/implications
A major challenge in arguing for an anti‐burden approach is the lack of a general ecosystem services approach and the dearth of valuation data to validate industry claims, demonstrate the costs of compliance and non‐environment and the value of protection.

Practical implications
The argument is presented that environmental regulation is of fundamental value not only to the environment per se but to tackling climate change and protecting society at large.

Hitherto there has been very little in the literature from a practitioner perspective, analysing and proposing improvements to environmental regulation in practice while preserving and securing environmental and sustainability policy objectives. This paper should support and encourage policy makers and implementers in improving practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-144
Number of pages25
JournalSustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2013


  • environmental regulations
  • better regulation
  • tackling harms
  • sustainability
  • regulation


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