Political institutions play a key role in countries' environmental footprints since they govern environmental policies. Democracy is an important institutional variable that can exacerbate or alleviate the ecological footprint (EF). The limited literature on democracy and EF association unfold conflicting results. Therefore, this empirical research studies the effect of democracy on EF in Pakistan, where various strict policies have weakened democracy and the country has also been severely affected by climate change. The study employs the novel Augmented ARDL (AARDL) approach to quantify the impact of democracy on EF by including population density, clean energy, and economic growth. The findings from the AARDL method unfold cointegration among variables. The long-run results reveal that democracy is negatively associated with EF. The results also suggest the Environment Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesis between EF and economic growth while accounting for democracy in the model. Hence, the study concludes that democracy is a significant driver of environmental sustainability. Further, the estimates of the AARDL also support a mitigating impact of clean energy on EF, while population density upsurges EF. Finally, the AARDL based causality test is applied, which disclosed causality between most regressors and EF. Lastly, detailed policy implications are directed.