Democracy and the Challenges of Climate Change

20 October 2021

Daniel Lindvall, researcher at Climate Change Leadership, is today publishing the Discussion paper Democracy and the Challenges of Climate Change, for International IDEA. You can read the full paper here.

On 26 October Daniel Lindvall is presenting the Discussion paper Democracy and the Challenges of Climate Change, for International IDEA. Register for the webinar here

The paper discussed correlation between climate change and democratic development. Certain climate consequences, as for example scarcity of food or rising food prices, are known to lead to social unrest and political instability and may lead to democratic breakdown, particularly in fragile democracies with weak state institutions. Other climate related emergency situations may have positive effects for democracy, bringing people together and providing opportunities for regime change, but they could also be used as an excuse for autocratic or hybrid regimes to curtail democratic freedoms. 

The paper also present research on the weaknesses and strengths of democracy in dealing with the climate crisis. It argues that democratic states are generally performing better on environment protection policies and climate action than autocratic states. However, factors such as the level of corruption and the size of the fossil fuel industry are affecting the climate performance negatively.

Generally speaking, the outcome of the climate crisis will depend on whether democracies can drastically reduce their carbon footprints in the coming years. Climate change poses a challenging test for democracies’ ability to cooperate and confront highly complex global challenges. In conclusion, democracies need to formulate adequate and ambitious policy responses to climate change for democracy to remain a legitimate and credible political system for young people and future generations.

The report will be discussed at a webinar on 26 October, at which Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General, International IDEA, Jan Wahlberg, the Finnish Climate Change Ambassador, Dr Julia Leininger, German Development Institute, & Member of International IDEA’s Board of Advisers, and Ms Elizabeth Wathuti, Founder of Green Generation Initiative and sustainability analyst at Sustainable Square, Kenya, will participate. Register for the webinar here

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