Democracy and Climate Change: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Democracy and Climate Change

1st Edition

By Frederic Hanusch


288 pages | 39 B/W Illus.

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Democracy and Climate Change explores the various ways in which democratic principles can lead governments to respond differently to climate change. The election cycle can lead to short-termism, which often appears to be at odds with the long-term nature of climate change, with its latency between cause and effect. However, it is clear that some democracies deal with climate change better than others, and this book demonstrates that overall stronger democratic qualities tend to correlate with improved climate performance.

Beginning by outlining a general concept of democratic efficacy, the book provides an empirical analysis of the influence of the quality of democracy on climate change performance across dozens of countries. The specific case study of Canada’s Kyoto Protocol process is then used to explain the mechanisms of democratic influence in depth. The wide-ranging research presented in the book opens up several new and exciting avenues of enquiry and will be of considerable interest to researchers with an interest in comparative politics, democracy studies and environmental policies.


"Even though there is little doubt that climate change challenges the practice of democracy in multiple ways, the exact relationship between both is still insufficiently understood. Based on extensive data analysis, Frederic Hanusch demonstrates in great detail that countries that are more democratic also cope more successfully with climate change. The call for eco-authoritarianism – at times still raised in some quarters – can be soundly rejected based on Hanusch’s work. Democracy and Climate Change is a major contribution and important reading for all who care about the future of our democracies in a warmer world."Frank Biermann, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and Chair of the Earth System Governance Project

"Established democracies today face a variety of troubles as the global response to climate change hangs in the balance. In this context, Frederic Hanusch has produced a timely, sophisticated and compelling empirical analysis of how democratic quality promotes effective climate policy performance, systematically bringing evidence to bear on a vital question." – John Dryzek, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra, Australia

"This book represents a step-change in understanding the relationship between democratic systems and climate change mitigation. Through careful analysis of the characteristics of existing democracies, Frederic Hanusch provides compelling evidence that democratic quality has an effect on climate policy and reduction of greenhouse gases. The application of a conceptually novel account of democratic efficacy allows Hanusch to develop the politically significant argument that democratising democracy is critical in the fight against climate change." – Graham Smith, Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, and Chair of the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development, UK

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction

Part I The Bases for the Analyses

Chapter 2. The unknown influence of democratic qualities on climate performance

Chapter 3. The concept and the operationalization of democratic efficacy 

Part II. An Empirical Analysis of the Democracy-Climate Nexus

Chapter 4. Analysis I: more leads to more –positive statistical trends

Chapter 5. Analysis II: Canada’s Kyoto Protocol process, 1995-2012 - a case study perspective

Chapter 6. 1995-1997: Chrétien makes use of the prerogative

Chapter 7. 1998-2002: futile consultations

Chapter 8. 2003-2005: undemocratic unpredictability

Chapter 9. 2006-2012: democratic weakening and climate change as a shield issue

Chapter 10. Discussion analysis II: linkages between democratic quality and climate performance

Part III. Synergy

Chapter 11. Overall discussion

Chapter 12. Conclusion


About the Author

Frederic Hanusch is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam, Germany.

About the Series

Routledge Global Cooperation Series

The Routledge Global Cooperation series develops innovative approaches to one of the most pressing questions of our time – how to achieve cooperation in a culturally diverse and politically contested global world?

Many key contemporary problems such as climate change and forced migration require intensified cooperation on a global scale. Accelerated globalisation processes have led to an ever-growing interconnectedness of markets, states, societies and individuals. Many of today’s problems cannot be solved by nation states alone and require intensified cooperation at the local, national, regional and global level to tackle current and looming global crises.

We favour books that take an interdisciplinary approach and appeal to an international readership comprised of scholars and postgraduate students.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Series Editors:

Tobias Debiel, Dirk Messner, Sigrid Quack and Jan Aart Scholte are Co-Directors of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. Their research areas include climate change and sustainable development, global governance, internet governance and peacebuilding. Tobias Debiel is Professor of International Relations and Development Policy at the University of Duisburg-Essen and Director of the Institute for Development and Peace in Duisburg, Germany. Dirk Messner is Director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University in Bonn, Germany. Sigrid Quack is Professor of Sociology at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. Jan Aart Scholte is Professor of Peace and Development at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Patricia Rinck is editorial manager of the series at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries