The politics of CO2 emissions
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Climate change poses a severe threat to humanity for the last few decades. Various forms of natural disasters, extreme weather events, the outbreak of deadly diseases, life, and food insecurity are among common threats of climate change. The dissertation examines the relationships between political institutions and climate change. The three political institutions examined are political regimes, federalism, and political ideology. The study provides data analysis that has implications for understanding the relationship between governance structures and responses to climate change. Given the conflicting theoretical arguments and contrary empirical findings of the role of these political institutions in existing literature, the results of the dissertation expect to improve existing knowledge by increasing our understanding of how different measures and statistical methods affect research findings. With this view into consideration, the study provides robustness of existing findings for the relationship between democratic institutions, federalism, and partisan ideology and climate change at a cross-national perspective using multiple measures and multiple models to cross-check the consistency of the empirical findings of the existing literature. The first study of the dissertation investigates whether democracy as a political institution performs better in reducing per capita CO2 emissions than non-democracies. Applying seven different empirical research designs, including the TSCS and multilevel model, the study intends to understand if consistent results are found in favor of any specific regime type between democracy- authoritarian spectrum when using different measures of democracy. Using the World Bank data and five different democracy indices, the study estimates the effect of political regimes on the per capita CO2 emissions. The study finds a moderate relationship between democracy and per capita CO2 emissions. The second study of the dissertation estimates the relationship between political decentralization through federalism and per capita CO2 emissions. The analysis is based on three different measures of federalism for 176 countries from 1990 to 2014. The results show a null effect. This is not surprising given the argument that federalism may create both a race to the bottom and a race to the top tendencies in its various subnational units culminating into a net insignificant result at a national level. The third study of the dissertation examines the relationship between partisan ideology and per capita CO2 emissions to explore if any variation exists in the levels of emissions in response to differences in the left-right political ideology spectrum. The study applies three different indices of political ideology to analyze the effect of partisanship on per capita CO2 emissions behavior of 120 countries from 1990 to 2014. Using time-series cross-sectional research designs, the study finds a less-than-moderate effect of political ideology in tackling the climate change problem. Scholars underscore the importance of institutions because they provide guiding norms and incentive structures that shape the actions of human and organizational behaviors. Steinmo and Tolbert (1998) hold that institutional context frame actor's strategic choices and thereby shape public policy. With that goal into consideration, the dissertation provides empirical tests of existing theories that improve upon the literature. The findings of the studies inform that some of the institutions may matter in responding to tackling climate change problems. Therefore, investment and strategic intervention for maintaining institutional quality and adopting institutional reform where needed merit more in-depth research initiatives.
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