Unpacking democracy: The effects of different democratic qualities on climate change performance over time
Given democracies’ moderate success in combatting climate change, some have questioned whether democracy makes it harder, not easier, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Two decades of research, however, has not provided an unequivocal answer. Recent studies argue that this is because democracy has been measured with a single indicator, rather than by its multiple and varied characteristics. In this study, we focus on a subset of democratic qualities and the role they play in mitigating climate change. Using recently developed random-effect within-between models, we formally test the relationships between democratic qualities and per capita CO2 emissions in a panel of 127 countries from 1992 to 2014. With one exception (inequality), we find that democratic qualities have no significant effects on a nation’s ability to mitigate climate change. This means that there are no trade-offs between strengthening democratic institutions and mitigating climate change. Consequently, the global challenge of climate change cannot be used as an excuse to weaken democratic institutions.