By Oxfam East Africa (Wading through flood waters) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

YES! topic 2018

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

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

Selected by Gymnasium Brunsbüttel

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?

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

Sebastian Renner

Sebastian Renner works as a research fellow at the GIGA since 2011, as a consultant for the World Bank since 2012, and as
a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Göttingen since 2016. His research is on environmental and
development economics, with a focus on poverty reduction and low carbon economic development. He has
worked intensively on Indonesia, India, Thailand, South Africa, and Mexico..

Institution: GIGA German Institute for Global and Area Studies

YES! Participations: 2018