The paper analyses how the quality of democracy influences the climate performance of established democracies. Two analyses compare established democracies based on their level of democracy and detect internal mechanisms to understand their different reactions to climate change. Therewith, the paper contributes to the question how transformative global climate governance “après Paris” can be translated successfully into national circumstances. Findings demonstrate that a higher quality of democracy influences climate performance for the most part positively. The positive influence of the quality of democracy, evaluated by empirical translations of control, equality and freedom, can be observed regarding output (policy targets etc.) and with certain limitations regarding outcome (GHG emission development). Research results are robust and show synergy in terms of detailed mechanisms verifying statistical trends. An initially outlined concept of democratic efficacy explains these findings by theorizing that democracy’s ability to produce desired and intended climate performances rises with increasing quality of democracy. Empirical analysis is conducted by applying an explanatory mixed methods design. Firstly, panel regressions deliver trends on the influence of the quality of democracy, as measured by the Democracy Barometer, on climate performance, as measured by the Climate Change Performance Index. Depending on combination of data, the number of countries ranges from 39 to 41 in 2004 to 2012 resulting in 193 to 326 country-years. Secondly, a case study of Canada’s Kyoto Protocol process from 1995 to 2012 follows, providing detailed insights into the mechanisms of the quality of democracy and climate performance. The findings are based on documentary analysis and 27 interviews with former ministers, MPs, NGOs, Think Tanks etc. The fundamental practical implication of the paper can be translated into specific policy recommendations but is as simple as complex: to overcome democratic shortcomings and thus democratize climate governance to make it more efficacious.