Will We Ever Have Paris? Canada's Climate Change Policy and Federalism 3.0

  • Jason MacLean College of Law, University of Saskatchewan


Global climate change is at the point where politics as usual is not sufficient to combat it. The author argues that a new conceptualization of constitutionalism and federalism will be required to respond to this change. What the author calls federalism 3.0 will be a bottom-up approach to politics, where individuals are empowered by governments and institutions to shape climate policy. This bottom-up approach is encapsulated in the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly declared Canada’s commitment to climate leadership through mobilizing all elements of Canadian society. However, the author argues Trudeau’s policies to date are merely an example of formalistic, check-the-box constitutionalism, rather than substantive, federalism 3.0.