Sociopolitical conflict around renewable energy policies and projects has become one of the main factors limiting their international diffusion. To increase their rate of adoption, we need a better understanding of the broad social implications of renewable energy policies. In Mexico, renewable energies have generated contestation around policy formation and project development. For example, in 2014, the Mexican Congress passed the Energy Transition Law (ETL) which established obligations for renewable energies consumption and economic incentives for its development. However, ETL aroused such intense public debate and the opposition from socioeconomic groups that the Senate did not pass it until December 2015. Since being signed into law, the ETL has promoted the development of 56 large-scale wind and solar PV projects, yet 67% of them face contestation from NGOs and grassroots organizations. Local contestation is taking many forms, for instance, the opposition of environmental groups in urban regions (Baja California), judicial processes related to the land tenure in areas with rural communities (Yucatan), and severe conflicts where opponents are blocking facilities in regions with indigenous communities (Oaxaca). Using Mexico as a focal point of study, this project trace how sociopolitical conflicts arose out of the development and implementation of renewable energy policy. Doing so it will provide a systemic understanding of how renewable energy policy affects the distribution of power, benefits, and risk among groups, and how these changes generate opposition from diverse groups. Specifically, this project addresses opposition to 1) renewable energy policy, 2) the social management of renewable energy sector, and 3) project development. Overall, this project will provide a multiscale perspective on diverse sociopolitical contestation associated with the diffusion of RE from the international climate regime to domestic policy to local implementation.
The undergraduate with the support of the graduate student mentor will help to build and analyze a database of 180 notes and press releases published in Mexico’s newspapers (2014-2015) related to the opposition of economic groups to the approval of the Energy Transition Law.
The undergraduate should be fluent in Spanish. The undergraduate should be self-motivated and able to work with limited guidance. Knowledge of qualitative research methods is a plus. The graduate student mentor is also committed to working closely with the undergraduate to develop and make progress towards his or her own personal career goals.