The greenhouse gas emissions caused by our energy system threaten a sustainable future. To overcome this threat, we need to transition towards cleaner energy forms. We have to change nearly everything around us: from the way we heat our homes, to the ways we power our planes and produce our steel. My research focuses on how we can achieve this transition and on the environmental justice implications for people like you and me.

My passion is to establish a symbiotic relationship with our planet and with one another.


All roads lead to Paris: the eight pathways to renewable energy target adoption

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

Energy Research & Social Science

Candelaria Bergero, Michael J. Rich, Eri Saikawa

DOI:  10.1016/j.erss.2021.102215
About 78% of global greenhouse gas emissions between 1970 and 2010 were due to fossil fuel combustion, increasing the atmospheric mixing ratio of carbon dioxide to around 419 ppm by June 2021. During a similar period, between 1975 and 2017, 162 countries adopted renewable energy targets – official national commitments to increase the share of renewable energies. What induced the diffusion of these renewable energy targets? What are the patterns of their diffusion? We analyze data from 187 countries and assess four possible mechanisms of policy diffusion of renewable energy targets: learning, economic competition, emulation, and coercion. Using a qualitative comparative analysis, we find eight pathways to renewable energy target adoption. In the most common pathways, economic competition, emulation, and coercion played a significant role. Before there is a critical mass of countries to emulate, our analysis shows that early adopters followed the mechanisms of economic competition and coercion. Ultimately, we find that there is no one recipe for the diffusion of renewable energy targets, and we identify the specific countries associated with the different diffusion pathways.

Spatial distribution of countries with national RETs over time. The selected years are arbitrary and represent the total number of countries that had a RET at the end of that year. Green and grey represent countries with and without a RET, respectively.
The countries represented by each path are shown in the maps above, with eight paths ranked in terms of their coverage. For Paths 1, 2 and 3, a lighter shade of the color was used for non-adopters (countries that appear in the pathway but, do not have a RET). Grey represents countries that are not part of the pathway.