Over the past decade, policymakers in Washington, D.C., Ottawa, and Mexico City generally failed to take meaningful action to reduce global greenhouse gases (GHGs), even as leading municipalities, states and provinces and firms worked to move forward with climate policy making. With ongoing global climate change negotiations and climate policy debates heating up in the United States Congress, it is time to think more seriously about North American climate change governance. To date, North American politicians, and particularly those in the United States, have paid little attention to continental options to reduce GHG emissions.
If North American GHG emissions are to be reduced efficiently and effectively across public and private sector entities across the continent, with the fewest trade distortions and other economic consequences possible, federal authorities in all three countries will need to realize and act on these shared interests. In this paper, we explore North America’s current GHG output and policy actions to date, examine four possible multilevel climate governance scenarios and extol the benefits of continental climate change cooperation.