Climate Change Mitigation: What does this mean for Developing Countries?



This challenge was introduced by Sebastian Renner, a researcher at GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg


Climate change is one of today’s major global threats. To limit the average global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would need to be reduced drastically. By how much each country should reduce its emission level has always been and continues to be a major dispute at the international policy level. While industrialised countries mainly caused past GHG emissions, current global GHG emission levels are dominated by low- and mostly middle-income countries: they account for two-thirds of global emissions.


In December 2015 world leaders agreed upon a new global climate agreement in an attempt to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius. Despite the general optimism after the Paris agreement and well-intended new commitments during the following UN conferences in 2016 and 2017, GHG emissions are growing strongly in developing countries, where there is a desire for prosperity. If the dual challenge of reducing GHG emissions and achieving economic development in these countries cannot be addressed, the world will fail to meet the desired climate targets.


The central question is how to combine combating climate change with achieving economic development in the developing world.

Compared to industrialised countries, developing countries face diverse economic development challenges, such as low levels and unequal distribution of income per capita, low institutional quality, low domestic resource mobilisation, low levels of provision of public goods, high pollution levels and more.

Balancing the domestically important challenges with the urgent need for climate change mitigation measures under constrained state capacity is a challenging endeavour. It will be necessary to identify potential trade-offs and win-win situations between climate change mitigation policies and other policies relevant to economic development.


How could / should solutions that incorporate both the need for climate protection and economic development look like? What could / should developing countries do? How could / should industrialised countries behave?

Recommended literature



Jann Lay, Sebastian Renner (2016): Not on the “Paris Track”: Climate Protection Efforts
in Developing Countries, GIGA Focus Global, 08, December 2016


Sebastian Renner, Jann Lay, and Michael Schleicher (2017): The Effects of Energy Price
Changes: Heterogeneous Welfare Impacts, Energy Poverty, and CO2 Emissions in
Indonesia, GIGA Working Paper, 302, May 2017


Sebastian Renner, Jann Lay, and Hannes Greve (2017): Household Welfare and CO2
Emission Impacts of Energy and Carbon Taxes in Mexico, GIGA Working Paper, 301,
April 2017


Michael Jakob, Jan Christoph Steckel, Stephan Klasen, Jann Lay, Nicole Grunewald,
Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso, Sebastian Renner, Ottmar Edenhofer (2014): Feasible
Mitigation Actions in Developing Countries, in: Nature Climate Change, 4, 11, 961-968

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    The GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies is an independent social science research institute based in Hamburg, Germany.

    The mission is to analyse political, social, and economic developments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as global issues.

    As a member of the Leibniz Association, the institute is committed to the principle of “theoria cum praxi”: science for the benefit of society. The GIGA is also home to the largest non-university information centre for area studies and comparative area studies in Germany.

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