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While some states in the Middle East and North Africa have pursued renewable energy policies, others have doubled-down on conventional fossil fuels and eschewed the development of renewable energy. What explains this variation? What implications do these choices have on domestic and international politics? Drawing on theories from political science and the political economy of development, we explore the transition from conventional to renewable energy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. We consider the impact of decarbonized, diversified economies on demands for inclusive governance and democratic institutions. First, we argue that the renewable energy transition will diffuse existing and future societal pressures by increasing youth employment, hindering corruption, and reducing fiscal volatility. Compared to the concentrated political economy of petroleum-reliant states, we posit that the up and coming renewables sector provides an opportunity for states to broaden and diversify their sources of economic and international political power. Second, we build theoretical expectations that fiscal reliance on oil exports and government time horizons explain variation in renewable energy policies in the MENA. We conclude with potential scenarios for how the transition will affect fiscal and political stability.
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