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The Global Rise in Renewable Energy

  • Author(s): McCall, Jolene
  • Advisor(s): Schofer, Evan
  • et al.
Abstract

Global, anthropogenic climate change has resulted in worldwide responses to address the existing and potential impending dangers to society. As a result, the world sits at an historic crossroads as efforts to transform the energy sector globally continue to progress. This research examines the global rise in renewable energy and the complex factors underlying this international phenomenon. The IPCC (2014) identifies renewable energy as a viable alternative to fossil fuels with the potential of mitigating climate change. However, despite a steady increase in renewable energy generated worldwide, there remains immense variation amongst nations in the amount of electricity being generated by renewable sources. In this dissertation I focus on understanding the variation in renewable energy generation as well as renewable energy regulatory frameworks. In three empirical chapters, I examine the relationship between renewable energy generation and regulatory framework and country-level cultural, political, and economic factors. In my dissertation, I examine (1) factors associated with increases in renewable energy production from 1970 through 2012, (2) factors associated with increases in solar energy generation from 2000 through 2016, and (3) the causal configuration of country-level conditions that result in advanced renewable energy regulatory frameworks. I employ cross-national time series regression analyses as well as a fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis. Overall, the findings highlight the impact the environmental regime on the global increase in renewable energy generation, including the role of international treaties and non-governmental organizations. Additionally, the results highlight variation among the mass adoption of renewable energy regulatory frameworks, by identifying the causal configuration of country-level conditions that lead to advanced regulatory frameworks for renewable energy. The findings contribute to the growing environmental sociology literature focused on environmental remediation. This dissertation supports previous research demonstrating the role of international treaty ratification and INGOs in the global civil society and in influencing the trend of renewable energy generation. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the implementation of advanced renewable energy regulatory frameworks is the result of a combination of a multiple country-level conditions.

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