Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



Since 1987, the concept of sustainable development, which tries to combine economic, social and environmental concerns into one benign development model, has become increasingly popular worldwide. To explore and explain the differences in accomplishing sustainable development, this thesis looks at one specific aspect: the energy sectors in the United States and the European Union. After giving an overview on the political and theoretical aspects of sustainable development, the various sustainability dimensions in the energy sector are explored. The following four reasons which warrant the change of the current fossil fuel intense energy sector are discussed: first, air pollution; second, insecurity of energy supplies; third, ultimate exhaustion of fossil fuels; and finally, climate change. Following the development of the methodology, various statistical tests are performed using a variety of indicators. Using Wilcoxon?s rank sum test significant differences between the U.S. and the EU energy sectors are discovered in energy intensity, carbon dioxide emissions, as well as per capita energy consumption in the various energy end-use sectors. Afterwards, a Sustainable Energy Index (SEI) is developed identifying Austria, Sweden and Finland as having the most sustainable and Wyoming, Alaska and West Virginia as having the least sustainable energy sectors. In addition, through regression analysis, energy intensity, share of renewables and energy consumption in the transportation sector are determined to have the greatest impact on carbon dioxide emissions. After the discussion of the SEI policy recommendations are developed, whose prompt implementation is desirable given the global rise in energy consumption and the negative consequences of climate change. Finally, a conclusion is drawn that no country or state has yet achieved a sustainable energy sector. Nonetheless, it was observed that, in general, European Countries scored better than American States, which can be attributed to better energy and environmental policies.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Paul H. Templet