Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Does the Conceptualization and Measurement of Democracy Quality Matter in Comparative Climate Policy Research?

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Abstract:  Previous empirical research on democracy and global warming has mainly questioned whether democracy contributes to climate protection. However, there is no consensus in the theoretical literature on what institutional traits of democracy are crucial for climate policy. Thus, results based on indices that summarize multiple democracy quality dimensions could be misleading, as their effects could balance each other out or hide the relative importance of each institutional trait. This article examines whether the analysis of the effects of democracy quality dimensions, measured by separate indicators, contributes to a better understanding of cross-national variance in climate policy compared to the focus on the regime type difference, measured by democracy quality measures. Compared to earlier research, the results indicate that the positive effect of democracy on commitment to climate cooperation depends on the realization of political rights. We find little to support the claim that democracy quality dimensions matter for climate policy outcomes. The main implication of our findings is that it could be fruitful to use more disaggregated democracy measures for the analysis of substantive research questions.

Keywords:  climate change policy; democracy; democracy quality; environmental policy; measures of democracy


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© Romy Escher, Melanie Walter-Rogg. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.