Mitigating climate change through fighting poverty

10/29/2014 - Progress in climate change mitigation hinges on the alleviation of poverty in developing countries. To this end, the international community should pursue a policy that prioritizes the global reduction of greenhouse gases just as much as the development objectives of poorer countries. This is the result of a study conducted by a team of scientists led by experts from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
Mitigating climate change through fighting poverty
Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya - it is considered to be the largest in Africa. Photo: thinkstock

“Particularly promising are a reduction in subsidies for fossil fuels, a fuel switch in the energy sector and a decentralized energy supply with low-carbon technologies,” says Jan Steckel of MCC, who is a guest scientist at PIK. In that context, the promotion of local solar and mini-hydro power plants is conceivable, among other measures. Moreover, the study recommends that climate policy focus not only on the large emitters among BRICS countries such as China, India or South Africa, but also on countries such as Vietnam or Nigeria. In these fast-growing smaller countries, rising emissions are on the horizon.

The authors caution against viewing the development objectives of poorer countries from a financial perspective only, recommending instead to take the institutional conditions for transfers of funds into consideration as well. “We estimate that many countries lack the institutional environment to make effective use of large sums of money to promote emissions reductions measures,” says Michael Jacob of MCC, also a guest scientist at PIK. "This is where the developed countries would have to come in, because just paying money is not enough." Massive funding for climate change could even dampen economic growth, he adds.

The study published in Nature Climate Change is co-authored by Ottmar Edenhofer, vice director and chief economist of PIK and director of MCC. It is part of the project "EntDekEn", funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

Article: Jakob, M., Steckel, J., Klasen, S., Lay, J., Grunewald, N., Martinez-Zarzoso, I., Renner, S., and Edenhofer, O. (2014) Feasible Mitigation Actions in Developing Countries, Nature Climate Change. DOI:10.1038/nclimate2370

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