International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 79–104

Democracy and state environmental commitment to international environmental treaties

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10784-013-9213-6

Cite this article as:
Carbonell, J.R. & Allison, J.E. Int Environ Agreements (2015) 15: 79. doi:10.1007/s10784-013-9213-6


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 commitmentInternational environmental treaties and agreementsDemocracyAccess to clean waterEnvironmental protection





Gross domestic product


Hegemonic stability theory


International environmental organization


Non-governmental organization


Ordinary least squares


Proportional representation


Single-member district plurality


United Nations environmental program

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceKent State University at Stark CampusNorth CantonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of California, RiversideRiversideUSA