Civic engagement and energy transition in the Nordic-Baltic Sea Region: Parametric and nonparametric inquiries

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The role of civic participation in issues directly or indirectly related to environmental quality is reputed to be on the rise globally. Bottom-up grassroots movements can be conducive to powering socially acceptable, smooth, and hence, more efficient transitions toward low-carbon energy futures. This factor can also unlock the potential of communities, improving the adaptation and social acceptability towards major changes and providing possible policy instruments. On contrary, bottom-up grassroots movements are unfavorable to the extension of renewable energy capacities, especially in the case of wind energy, if this causes costs for the local communities, which outweigh the corresponding benefits. Determining these dynamics is pivotal for addressing public ecological concerns and calls for quantitative regional studies. This paper addresses the nexus between civic engagement and energy transition in 11 countries of the Nordic-Baltic Sea Region. The study detects a strong positive relationship between civic engagement within environmental organizations and the share of renewable energy sources in the domestic electricity mixes of the countries of the Nordic-Baltic Sea Region. Nonparametric panel estimator with fixed effects reveals that the impact of civic engagement has been continuously rising – i.e. the significance of civic engagement as a factor in the energy transition has risen. Nevertheless, the study also finds that the magnitude of civic engagement over the years has been relatively stable in most countries of the region since 1981. In a few of them, civic engagement has been declining. The work argues that this decline could be attributed to the fact that politics, especially since 2005, deemed environmental issues as an important aspect of public policy – a factor that contributed to mainstreaming the phenomenon.

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Socio-Economic Planning Sciences



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