National environmental policies as shelter from the storm: specifying the relationship between extreme weather vulnerability and national environmental performance

  • Todd A. Eisenstadt
  • Daniel J. Fiorino
  • Daniela StevensEmail author


Empirical evidence regarding what causes some nations to display better environmental performance than others is still needed. Several case-based studies exist, as do studies that focus on developed countries and OECD members, but little systematic work has compared environmental performance across a worldwide sample of nations to discern, at the domestic level, why some nations are more “green” than others. This paper uses the Environmental Performance Index (2014) to explore the association between environmental performance and “conventional wisdom” variables that scholars have used to explain performance. While the article debunks the traditional explanations of regime type and international treaty participation, it identifies more relevant determinants, namely, a nation’s vulnerability to extreme weather events. Using an ordinary least squares regression, we find that whether the country is democratic or authoritarian is not by itself significant; nor is whether the nation is a signatory to major international treaties. Instead, vulnerability measured as human and economic losses after extreme weather events impact environmental performance significantly. Future research should explore the strong possibility that the effects of political institutions on environmental performance are mitigated by other factors such vulnerability to climate change.


Vulnerability Climate Extreme weather events Environmental performance EPI Environmental policy 


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Copyright information

© AESS 2018
corrected publication 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American UniversityWashingtonUSA

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