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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Explaining the International Environmental Cooperation of Democratic Countries


Research has shown that an enormous range of variation exists in nation-state commitment to environmental treaties and international cooperation. I examine the degree of involvement of eighteen democratic states across fifteen international environmental treaties over the past twenty years. The analysis tests several hypotheses of the rival theories of international-level policy making, specifically structural conditions, political institutions, interest-based, and international connectivity theory, to determine causal forces underlying collaborative international behavior. Empirical findings reveal that the strongest determinants of a state's international environmental treaty engagement are the citizenry's post-material orientations and executive-centered political institutions. This primarily corroborates liberal theory's emphasis on the underlying values of the polity and domestic institutional procedures and challenges the importance of external, international forces and structural conditions.

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