The Western Climate Initiative: Cross-Border Collaboration and Constitutional Structure in the United States and Canada – Note by Jeremy Lawrence

From Volume 82, Number 6 (September 2009)

Scientists have reached a consensus that global warming is a looming threat. A surprisingly large number of national politicians are lagging behind. The U.S. federal government, though making some strides toward reducing national greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, has only addressed the problem in a piecemeal and halting fashion. In its place, the states have taken the lead. In Canada, the provinces have likewise taken the initiative in the face of federal inaction.

In light of these locally driven efforts, it was only a matter of time before states and provinces began to collaborate in their efforts. The first of these cross-border efforts originated in 2007, when the Western Climate Initiative (“WCI”), originally a GHG reduction partnership between a number of governors in the western United States, added British Columbia and Manitoba to its ranks.

But there is an apparent barrier to such cross-border collaboration. As the U.S. Supreme Court noted in its most recent case on global warming, “When a State enters the Union, it surrenders certain sovereign prerogatives. . . . [I]t cannot negotiate an emissions treaty with China or India.”



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