The Relationship Between Economic Development, Renewable Energy Production, and CO2 Emissions: Case Studies of Costa Rica, Bhutan, and Sweden

Authors: Kurt Willson*, University of Maryland - College Park
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Energy, Sustainability Science
Keywords: economic development, renewable energy, emissions, Costa Rica, Bhutan, Sweden
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download


The countries of Costa Rica, Bhutan, and Sweden are unique to one another because of variations in climates, continental location, cultures, population size, gross domestic product (GDP) and many other measurable indices. Despite their many differences, these three countries all excel in one thing: utilizing renewable energy to power their countries and, in turn, reducing or maintaining low levels of greenhouse gas emissions. By determining the economic and political rationales that reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lawmakers, regulators, and citizens of other countries may gain insight and pathways to successfully mediate ongoing and future effects of climate change. The goal of this research was to determine if there was a link between a country’s stage of development and population size to its total CO2 emissions and renewable energy use. One trend that was present was that the core country (Sweden) lowered the overall levels of CO2 emissions while the semi-periphery country (Costa Rica) held levels steady, and the periphery country (Bhutan) increased levels of emissions. This follows the environmental Kuznets curve model that as a country continues to develop, they may eventually reach a point where the technological advancement helps protect the environment rather than destroy it. It may in fact be that as countries pass through differing socio-economic levels they address economic and environmental goals differently. This market based trend may also be an important point moving forward as many developing countries in the periphery have not reached peak CO2 emissions or renewable energy use.

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