Chapter | A Handbook of Globalisation and Environmental Policy | 2012

Environmental Federalism in the European Union and the United States

by David Vogel, Michael W. Toffel, Diahanna Post and Nazli Z. Uludere Aragon


The United States (US) and the European Union (EU) are federal systems in which the responsibility for environmental policy-making is divided or shared between the central government and the (member) states. The attribution of decision-making power has important policy implications. This chapter compares the role of central and local authorities in the US and the EU in formulating environmental regulations in three areas: automotive emissions for health-related (criteria) pollutants, packaging waste, and global climate change. Automotive emissions are relatively centralised in both political systems. In the cases of packaging waste and global climate change, regulatory policy-making is shared in the EU, but is primarily the responsibility of local governments in the US. Thus, in some important areas, regulatory policy-making is more centralised in the EU. The most important role local governments play in the regulatory process is to help diffuse stringent local standards through more centralised regulations, a dynamic which has recently become more important in the EU than in the US.

Keywords: Natural Environment; Policy; Government and Politics; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; European Union; United States;


Vogel, David, Michael W. Toffel, Diahanna Post, and Nazli Z. Uludere Aragon. "Environmental Federalism in the European Union and the United States." Chap. 11 in A Handbook of Globalisation and Environmental Policy. 2nd ed. Edited by Frank Wijen, Kees Zoeteman, Jan Pieters, and Paul van Seters, 321–361. Cheltenham, UK, 2012.