Climate law and policy in north America: Prospects for regionalism

Abstract

This paper surveys the current bilateral and tri-lateral initiatives aimed at GHG emission reductions in North America, with a view to assessing the nature and potential role of regional (North American scale) climate change law and policy within the broader global framework. In pursuit of this objective, this paper seeks to identify, first, how climate change mitigation may usefully be regulated on a regional scale, and second, the governance structures and institutions that may be drawn upon to create and implement regional cooperation on climate change. Particular consideration is also given to the capacity of regional approaches to climate change cooperation to meet the different climate change objectives that Mexico has identified given the less developed state of its economy. Our conclusions suggest that regional climate governance is likely to arise, but in a decentralized fashion and oriented more towards implementation than commitment creation. The absence of strong regional institutions and a fragmented system of resource and environment regulation militates against a law-based and hierarchical system of regional climate governance. However, a regional approach may be attractive in those sectors that are highly integrated within the NAFTA trade area, where leakage and competitiveness concerns are higher. The common focus on developing innovative technologies through direct research and development funding provides further opportunities for cooperation.

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