Illusion or Reality: Does adoption of a certified environmental management system fundamentally alter the environmental impacts of industry?
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This thesis seeks to contribute to current literature surrounding the efficacy of certified environmental management systems (EMS) at reducing negative environmental externalities associated with industry. In response to the skepticism in existing scholarship that certified EMSs achieve concrete reductions in negative externalities, a multiple regression model is used to quantitatively analyze the relationship or lack there of between the presence of a certified EMS at an industrial facility and reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Specifically, this thesis examines the presence of the ISO 14001 EMS certification among the largest carbon emitting facilities in Alberta to determine whether its presence has a statistically significant correlation to a reduction in emissions. The results of the regression analysis determine that the presence of an ISO 14001 certified EMS does not lead to a reduction in GHG emissions amongst Alberta’s largest carbon emitters. This thesis recommends that fundamental changes be made to the ISO 14001 certifying process to ensure a robust approach to manage more complex environmental problems, namely climate change, is adopted.