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Bicycles as environmental goods - Fair Transport Labeling?

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  • Eric Britton (Paris)
    Carlos Felipe Pardo wrote this group on Sat 4/29/2006 (see below for full text and article) about how if at all we might support the labeling of bicycles as
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2006
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      Carlos Felipe Pardo wrote this group on Sat 4/29/2006 (see below for full text and article) about  how if at all we might support the “labeling” of bicycles as “environment goods”.  Indeed this is a matter which has been getting more general attention around here, including the possibility of some kind of eco-labeling of carshare vehicles.

       

      More than that, the somewhat purposefully copycat link between Fair Transport and Fair Trade suggests that once we have some kind of credible base for Fair Transport (and indeed the New Mobility Agenda may be a good enough start to get us going, especially if we can get the right kind of credible partner support for something along these lines), there is no reason for us to not at least consider the concept of Fair Trade Labeling.  Here are some first thoughts on that:

       

      Fair Transport

      A New Mobility Agenda for a Changing World

       

      (Note to reader/friends: This is a quick thinking exercise for a concept which may be worth pursuing.  I would be grateful to have your comments and suggestions, for any of what follows as well as your ideas on the concept and eventual next steps more generally. And since this is so very rough and incomplete, I thank you for keeping this at this early point between us.  Ericbritton)

       

      Fair Transport Labeling:

       

      Fair transport is similar to the now old and often confusing concept of sustainable transport, but it is more focused and less general.  Specifically, it gives us the base for a kind of eco-labeling concept that has certain similarities with Fairtrade labeling (see below for a short definition), but it is entirely focused on the identification and support of concepts and programs that are able to meet or show meaningful progress in terms of a certain number of specific performance and other social, economic and technical parameters.

       

      Fairtrade labelling (usually simply fairtrade, fair trade, Fair Trade or fair trade certified) is a brand designed to allow consumers to identify goods (especially agricultural products such as coffee) which meet agreed standards. The system involves independent auditing of producers to ensure standards are met. Companies offering products that meet the fair trade standards are licensed to use the fair trade label. Standards are set by the independent NGO Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO on behalf of a number of national bodies (such as the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK) for each type of product. Typically standards cover labor standards, environmental standards, and stable pricing.

       

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairtrade  (with some slight rearrangement):

       

       

        

      Who/what qualifies eventually for Fair Transport labeling:

      • Types of vehicles  (For example, maybe bikes yes. Segway probably no. Electric bikes ??)
      • Specific vehicles
      • Power and fuel sources
      • Transportation systems (such as LRT, BRT, etc.)
      • Types of services (ex. Carsharing)
      • Production systems
      • Innovative Programs that advance the Fair Transport agenda? International, national, local, NGOs. Examples?

       

      Criteria:

      • Current availability
      • Favor human contact (as opposed to machine contact)
      • Low cost to users
      • Low or at least competitive support costs to collectivity
      • Low resource consumption
      • Low environmental impacts
      • Social impacts
      • Impact analysis
      • Impact positively on city structures, neighborhoods
      • Labor, job creation, skill building
      • Ease of recycling at end of product life

       

      Funding:

      • Organizational costs (slim)
      • Eventual prizes?

       

       

      First rounds of prizes:??  (maybe we need to figure out 10 or so year for critical media mass)

      • Monderman concept
      • Bike program (Lyons?)
      • Other?
      • Some historical prize (example Amsterdam White Bike?)

       

      Some Fair Transport Label credibility questions: 

      1. How meaningful would a Fair Transport label be?

      2. How do we verify that the label standards are met?

      3. Is the meaning of the label consistent?

      4. Are the label standards publicly available?

      5. Is information about the organization publicly available?

      6. Is the organization behind the label free from conflict of interest?

      7. Was the label developed with broad public and unbiased expert input?

       

      Some notes, points, possibilities for comment:

       

      • Should there be “levels of qualification (to encourage processes)?
      • Re-verification process (i.e., label will need periodic updating?)
      • Who pays the cost of making this happen?
      • When, where to give the prizes?
      • Where to start?
      • Sponsors?
      • International Advisory Council??- http://www.ecoplan.org/kyoto/challenge/panel.htm
      • The New Mobility Agenda?? the international organization responsible for Fair Transport labeling world-wide. http://www.fairtransport.org

       

       

       

      -----Original Message-----
      From: NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com [mailto:NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Carlos F. Pardo SUTP
      Sent:
      Saturday, April 29, 2006 12:15 AM
      To: carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com; NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [NewMobilityCafe] Bicycles as environmental goods

       

      Nice info, maybe we could find a way to support? Letters signed by many parties, etc.

       

      Source: http://itdp.org/STe/ste21/wto.html

       

       

      WTO Negotiations Open Possibility of Defining Bicycles as Environmental Goods

       

      By Matthew Sholler

       

      Current efforts to designate bikes as “environmentally preferable products” free of tariffs
      and other trade barriers have gone largely unnoticed by the international bicycling community.

       

      Organizations promoting bicycle use at the international level may have a new avenue to do so -- through the liberalization of trade in bicycles, bicycle parts and components, and bicycle accessories that could result from the World Trade Organization's (WTO) current negotiations on environmental goods and services.

      The mandate for these negotiations comes from the so-called Doha Development Agenda (DDA), issued by trade ministers at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November 2002.  Paragraph 31(iii) of the DDA calls for the reduction or elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services.  WTO ministers did not, however, define what constitutes an "environmental good", so the negotiations have moved forward largely on the basis of lists of suggested goods by WTO member economies. 

      One sub-category of products is referred to as "environmentally preferable products", or EPPs, deemed superior to close substitutes because of the way they are produced, used or disposed of.

      At the end of 2004, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was asked by its member countries to prepare a study of EPPs, concentrating on products whose liberalization would benefit developing countries, either through improved environmental outcomes or increased trade in the product. The bicycle emerged as one of the three EPPs the OECD Secretariat chose to study in depth.
      (A copy of the report may be found here: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/45/19/35841725.pdf)

      In mid-2005, Switzerland, an OECD member country, submitted its own list of proposed environmental goods to the WTO, which included bicycles, bicycle parts and components, and certain accessories. The Swiss proposal has been met with mixed reactions by other member countries, many of which are represented in WTO negotiations by representatives from trade ministries who do not grasp the bicycle's environmental relevance.  Others, usually from environment ministries, have generally been more supportive of the idea.    

      As of this writing, no definitive common list of environmentally goods has been agreed by WTO negotiators. There may still be an opportunity for bicycle advocates to tell their countries' WTO delegates just how important it is to grant "environmental good" status to bicycles, parts and accessories.

       



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