Conventional wisdom suggests that environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) play a major role in pushing states towards more ambitious environmental policies. However, demonstrating that this presumption is in fact true is rather difficult, because the same system structures of democracies that may create more opportunities for ENGO activities are also, on their own, conducive to better environmental policies. This leaves open the possibility that the additional (marginal) impact of ENGOs on policy making is smaller than presumed. In trying to disentangle these effects, this paper examines the influence of ENGOs contingent on key structural characteristics of democratic systems. We develop the argument that presidential systems with a plurality electoral rule per se tend to provide more environmental public goods, which induces a smaller marginal impact of ENGOs. Conversely, parliamentary systems with a proportional representation electoral rule are likely to provide fewer environmental public goods, which allows for a larger marginal impact of ENGOs. We find robust empirical support for these hypotheses in analyses that focus on the ratification behavior of 75 democracies vis-à-vis 250 international environmental agreements in 1973–2002.