The Case for Effective Environmental Politics: Federalist or Unitary State? Comparing the Cases of Canada, the United States of America, and the People’s Republic of China

Federalism, by its nature, is a segmented system of governance. The Canadian and American constitutional orders are divided along very clear lines of jurisdictional authority between levels of government. Environmental issues, by their nature, are holistic in scope—they transcend borders, governments, jurisdictions, and authorities. For this reason, one might assume that a unitary state would be better positioned to tackle them. Is this justified? This Article examines the Chinese unitary state, in comparison to the federalist systems in Canada and the United States of America, to discern whether a unitary government can better manage issues plaguing the environment.