Multilevel Environmental Governance

Multilevel Environmental Governance

Managing Water and Climate Change in Europe and North America

Edited by Inger Weibust and James Meadowcroft

The literature on Multi-level governance (MLG), an approach that explicitly looks at the system of the many interacting authority structures at work in the global political economy, has grown significantly over the last decade. The authors in this volume examine how multilevel governance (MLG) systems address climate change and water policy.

Chapter 9: Allocating greenhouse gas emission reductions amongst sectors and jurisdictions in federated systems: the European Union, Germany and Canada

Douglas Macdonald

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental politics and policy, water, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, regulation and governance


Given differing per-unit reduction costs and a desire to maximize efficiency, a basic challenge facing climate change mitigation policy makers is allocating the total reduction effort amongst groups of sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, such as transportation, buildings or different industrial sectors. In a unitary state, while having implications for local or regional economies, the focus is upon sectoral allocation. At the international level, on the other hand, attention is focused upon allocation amongst states, rather than sources. This is because normative concerns, related to historic responsibility for the problem and differing capacity to act, have led to agreement that Northern states should reduce more than Southern states. It is also because, at the international level, all states face the problem of collective action - the need to guard against free-riding - and so seek international agreements ensuring that all will act. The major such agreement to date, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, allocated a total reduction amongst the Northern states. In federated systems, there is a need to consider allocation amongst both sources and 'states', in this case the subnational jurisdictions in which sources are located. This is because, for the efficiency reasons noted above, sources in one region may have to reduce more than those in another. Even if there is no conscious intent to allocate geographically amongst subnational jurisdictions, the mere fact of allocating amongst sources inevitably has that effect.

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