Democracy and Climate Change  book cover
1st Edition

Democracy and Climate Change

ISBN 9780367248048
Published June 7, 2019 by Routledge
288 Pages 39 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

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


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


"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