A democratic country is definitely not always a greener one. The United States is not that green and in a few years will be passed by the communist state of China. It is unfortunate, but China is investing much more money in green technology than the United States in order to make some money. However, at least they are doing something.
In general, you have noted a trend of countries with democracies being “greener” at least in relation to their level of development (Germany uses infinitely more petroleum than Zanzibar, but are also doing more actively for the environment then Zanzibar by virture of how developed Germany is, for example) with a couple exceptions. European democracies are some of the biggest users of green technologies. Why is this?
Two reasons: first, most democracies in the world have the luxury of being highly developed, as noted above, and have the room for green technology. Secondly, the leaders of democracies depend on satisfying a certain number of their constituents to stay in power. If their constituents want to be greener and make this desire known, the leaders will respond to their needs in order to stay in office. Dictators, on the other hand, only have to keep a small group of higher-ups/cronies satisfied to keep from being ousted. “Greening” isn’t the most profitable enterprise for a dictator (takes money away from yourself and the small group of people you have to satisfy), it doesn’t make political sense for such countries to respond to the desire for environmentally-friendly systems until the need for such systems outweighs the gain the leader gets from doing other things with his/her time and money.
It’s unfortunately obvious that many of the leaders in the US, for example, do not have constituents whose top priorities are environmental in nature. Often, congresspeople and others are seen as wasting time and money by putting forth environmental legislation, especially when people in the US are concerned about losing their jobs and healthcare and not so much the environment. In (the supposedly Communist, but not really, state of) China, it is profitable/beneficial for both the regime and the complex power system within the nation to create green technology.
For more explanations of how different types of regimes respond to the wants and needs of constituents, I recommend checking out Principles of International Politics, by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (link below). The man teaches a great politics class!
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