Friend or foe? Empirical examination of the relationship between different types of democracy and countries’ environmental commitments. Thats the title of the paper discussed on this lunch seminar.
6 Nov 2020
12:00 - 13:00
Marina Povitkina, researcher at the Center for Collective Action Research
CeCAR - Center for Collective Action Research
Ever since the recognition of ongoing human-induced large-scale environmental degradation, from the early 1960s and onwards, the scholarly community has glanced at democracy with mixed feelings. Some assert up front that democracy is devastating for countries’ environmental performance, some are claiming the opposite, while yet other scholars instead suggest that different forms than the particular liberal democracy is the way ahead towards a sustainable society. Both normative theorists and empirical social scientists fuel to this debate, and both sides are suffering from shortcomings. Normative political theorists lack systematic empirical evidence for most of their assertions for whether democracy per se or different variants of democracy are more or less pro-environmental. In parallel, the empirically oriented scholarship is impaired with poor data typically obstructing them from properly evaluating democracy’s actual environmental pros and cons. In this paper, we make use of recently collected and therefore unique data, enabling us to better address both these literatures. Using the data gathered by the Varieties of Democracy project on different conceptions of democracy, we empirically test whether different democratic principles, such as liberal, deliberative, and social-liberal, are beneficial or harmful for countries’ commitments to environmental improvements. In particular, we investigate which of these distinct characteristics make democracies more prone to adopt more climate laws, deliver on the adopted climate laws, develop stricter environmental policies, and incorporate sustainability into their economic policies.