Ecological Democratic Peace?

Ecological Democratic Peace?

by: David Presberger (presenting author)

ETH Zurich, Switzerland

My contribution deals with the role political factors play in the process of environmental burden shifting through international trade. Cornerstone to this investigation is how western democracies shift the environmental impact originating from production to imported consumer goods produced by other countries. Discrepancies between countries are examined with data on country dyads over a period from 1990 to 2015 by drawing on multi-regional input-output (MRIO) data from Exiobase and Eora, which poses a relatively new approach in this strand of research. The direct comparison of the two data sets allows me to check for robustness, since both data sets deviate in their accuracy and coverage of countries. Besides having a focus on global patterns for environmental burden shift, I also present a more in-depth investigation of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. The high resolution of the employed data allows a closer look on sectors and products that cause environmental burden offloading in these three countries. The findings of my investigation suggest that one story often told in political science on the democratic peace appears rather weak in the realm of ecology. In general, democratic countries are not prone to be more compassionate in their offloading behavior if the trading partner is also a democracy. Thus the quality of government, not the regime type, is one of the major determinants for environmental burden offloading. Factors describing the quality of government, e.g. corruption, show a significant effect on outsourcing environmental impacts. Increasing corruption levels also increase the amount of environmental burdens offloaded to other countries through consumption. The results suggest that a closer look on quality of government could help to reach the goal of a more sustainable development.