Environmental Pollution as a Global Phenomenon: the Influence of Political Factors on the Reduction of Environmental Pollution in Democratic Industrial States

Funded by: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Project Status/ Period: 2002-2012

Research Questions: Do domestic political factors influence environmental policies and environmental performance of OECD countries or is environmental performance solely determined by economic or socio-structural variables? In how far do globalization and international institutions affect national environmental policy and performance?

Research Area/ Methods: Quantitative aggregate data analysis; pooled time-series-cross-section-analysis

Short Description:
Although environmental politics and policies are of growing interest in the field of comparative political science only a few systematic comparative studies try to explain the effects of political factors on variations of national environmental performance. To fill this research gap we analyze the influence of national institutions and processes on national environmental politics/performance in 21 OECD countries by means of aggregate data analysis for the period from 1980 to 2005.

The project’s research focus lies on national efforts concerning environmental protection. In order to analyze national environmental protection we focus on three kinds of dependent variables: in addition to policy outputs we analyze policy outcomes and moreover environmental trajectories.

First, we construct a time-variant output index that aggregates the number of environmental innovations adopted by a country at a certain time. Innovations refer to the introduction of institutions such as environmental ministries and environmental framework laws. The index consequently reflects the degree of national environmental institutionalization.

Second, we construct an environmental performance index based on a set of outcome indicators. This environmental performance index integrates both national pollution levels (water, air, soil) and efforts to reduce the degree of environmental pollution (e.g. recycling).

Third, we identify different trajectories of national environmental performance in order to integrate programmatic aspects of environmental politics into an analytical context. This enables us to differentiate between three different types of trajectories: a) productionist states with low environmental performance; b) productionist states with higher environmental performance and c) green states with high environmental performance

Here we present our first empirical results concerning the national environmental trajectories for the 21 selected countries:

Negative Environmental Performance
Positive Environmental Performance
Productionist Development
Productionist Development: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, USA
Eco-Productionist Development: Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, France
„Green“ Development
Ecological Development: Austria, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands

The influence parameters can be separated into four areas: First, we analyze the influence of extra-parliamentary mobilization by environmental movements that open specific opportunity structure for the adoption of environmental policies. Second, we investigate the influence of parliamentarian mobilization. Concrete hypotheses in this area can be inferred from the parties matter hypothesis and veto player theory. Third, environmental policies are increasingly influenced by international factors. Therefore we integrate hypotheses and analyses which consider the influence of international institutions and diffusion processes. Fourth, we control for specific national conditions such as the climate and socio-economic factors.

Project Team:
Principal investigator: Prof. Dr. Detlef Jahn
Current research fellows: Christoph Oberst; Stefanie Korte
Former research fellows: Katrin Daedlow; Bertram Welker
Student Assistants: Sebastian Vogt, Lena Masch, Thomas Behm

Jahn, Detlef (2009): Globalisierung als Galtonproblem: Regionale und temporale Diffusionsschübe. In: Pickel, Susanne (Hg.): Methoden der vergleichenden Politik- und Sozialwissenschaft. Neue Entwicklungen und Anwendungen. 1. Aufl. Wiesbaden: VS Verl. für Sozialwiss., S. 87-112.

Joas, Marko; Jahn, Detlef; Kern, Kristine (2008): Governing a common sea. Environmental policies in the Baltic Sea region. London: Earthscan.

Jahn, Detlef; Wälti, Sonja (2007): Umweltpolitik und Föderalismus: Zur Klärung eines ambivalenten Zusammenhangs. In: Biermann, Frank; Busch, Per-Olof; Feindt, Peter Henning; Jacob, Klaus (Hg.): Politik und Umwelt. 1. Aufl. Wiesbaden: VS Verl. für Sozialwiss., S. 262–282.

Jahn, Detlef (2006): Globalization as Galton's Problem: The Missing Link in the Analysis of the Diffusion Patterns in Welfare State Development. In: International Organization, Jg. 60, H. 2, S. 401–431.

Jahn, Detlef (1998): Environmental Performance and Policy Regimes: Explaining Variations in 18 OECD Countries. In: Policy Sciences, Jg. 31, H. 2, S. 107–131.

Working Papers:
Jahn, Detlef (2009): Inernational and Domestic Aspects of the Institutionalization of Environmental Policies in Industrial Countries. Paper prepared for the 50th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, New York, USA, February 15-18, 2009. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 2009, Greifswald.

Jahn, Detlef (2008): The Logic of International Diffusion in Environmental Policies. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISA's 49th annual convention, bridging multiple divides, Hilton San Francisco, USA, March 26, 2008. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 2008, Greifswald.

Jahn, Detlef (2008): The Politics of Climate Change. Paper prepared for delivery at the 2008 ECPR-Joint Sessions of Workshops in Rennes.

Jahn, Detlef (2008): Die nationale Institutionalisierung der Umweltpolitik in 21 OECD Ländern und den neuen Mitgliedsländern der EU. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 2008, Greifswald.

Jahn, Detlef (2007): Left and Right in Comparative Politics: Bringing Theory Back in. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 2007, Greifswald.

Jahn, Detlef; Welker, Bertram; Daedlow, Katrin (2006): Umweltbelastung als globales Phänomen. Der einfluss politischer Faktoren auf die Reduzierung der Umwetlbelastung in modernen demokratischen Industrienationen. DFG-Zwischenbericht. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 2006.

Jahn, Detlef (2005): Globalization as Galton's Problem: the Impact on Environmental Pollution over Four Decades. Paper prepared for the ISA-Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 2005, Greifswald.

Jahn, Detlef; Welker, Bertram; Daedlow, Katrin (2004): Umweltbelastung als globales Phänomen. Der Einfluss politischer Faktoren auf die Reduzierung der Umweltbelastung in modernen Industriestaaten. DFG-Zwischenbericht. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 2004.

Daedlow, Katrin (2004): Indexbildung und Messprobleme bei der Anwendung von Umweltdaten in der Aggregatdatenforschung. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 2004, Greifswald.

Jahn, Detlef (2003): Environmental Pollution and Economic Performance in Eastern and Western Europe: Parallels and Differences. ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops. Edinburgh: 28.März - 4. April. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 2003, Greifswald.

Jahn, Detlef (2003): Patterns of Environmental Performance. Conference on Environmental Policy Integration and Sustainable Development, 19.-20.11.2003, National Europe Center at the Australian National University, Canberra. Unveröffentlichtes Manuskript, 2003, Greifswald.