This article tests the hypothesis that democracies exhibit stronger international environmental commitment than non-democracies, using multivariate econometric techniques. A number of proxy variables are used in lieu of environmental commitment, a non-observable variable. Strong evidence is found that democracies sign and ratify more multilateral environmental agreements, participate in more environmental intergovernmental organizations, comply better with reporting requirements under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, put a greater percentage of their land area under protections status, are more likely to have a National Council on Sustainable Development in their country and have more environmentally relevant information available than non-democracies. The findings suggest that a spread of democracy around the world will lead to enhanced environmental commitment worldwide. Results are robust with respect to inclusion or exclusion of developed countries in the sample. The use of four different variables for democracy also ensures robustness with respect to the measure of democracy. The strong evidence in favour of a positive link between democracy and environmental commitment stands in contrast to the somewhat weak evidence on such a link between democracy and environmental outcomes. The explanation presumably is that theory predicts a stronger positive link of democracy with environmental commitment than with environmental outcomes.
Replication datasets available