Original Paper

International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 79-104

First online:

Democracy and state environmental commitment to international environmental treaties

  • Joel R. CarbonellAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, Kent State University at Stark Campus Email author 
  • , Juliann E. AllisonAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of California, Riverside

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One of the current research endeavors in international environmental politics is understanding the link between democracy and international environmental protection. Scholars in the field seek to identify the international and domestic factors that increase state commitment to international environmental treaties and agreements. Counter to the traditional literature on international environmental commitment, this paper reconceptualizes both traditional and alternative theories in order to identify domestic institutional factors that may increase state cooperation with international environmental agreements. In particular, this study posits that democratic governments in comparison to authoritarian governments increase state compliance with international environmental agreements; however, there may be domestic environmental conditions, such as limited access to clean water that may constrain democracies in participating in international environmental agreements. This study presents a quantitative analysis measuring the effects of democracy on state compliance behaviors with international environmental agreements. The results of the study provide support for an alternative bottom-up theoretical framework focusing on domestic environmental politics in addressing international environmental agreements.


International environmental commitment International environmental treaties and agreements Democracy Access to clean water Environmental protection