Low-carbon Development

Over one billion people in the developing world still lack access to electricity, and over two billion still rely on fuelwood or charcoal for cooking and heating.

A Datang International Power Generation Co. Ltd. wind farm in Gansu province, China. China has set a target for renewable energy consumption of 40 percent of the market by the year 2050. Credit: Markel Redondo / Panos

Extending access to energy to poor people is a crucial part of the development agenda, as is meeting the energy needs for industry as the economies of developing countries grow. But meeting these needs in a carbon-constrained world is a huge challenge.

Researchers at IDS and in the STEPS Centre are exploring low-carbon development from a number of angles. We particularly focus on the way that policies, politics, institutions and markets shape innovation and investment in, and use of, low-carbon energy.

IDS research on low-carbon development includes:

  • How emerging economies, particularly China and India, pursue transitions from high-carbon to low-carbon development. This research includes the approaches these countries take to investments in renewable energy and to low-carbon innovation. It also examines the influence their emergence has on climate change mitigation, energy security and economic competitiveness, and the implications for other countries. We focus on the impacts both on developed countries and low-income countries, particularly in Africa.
  • Whether and how investment in and use of low-carbon technologies, particularly in low-income countries, can be part of a development model that reduces poverty and transforms livelihoods to make people less vulnerable to climate change.

Business Innovation Facility

The Business Innovation Facility (BIF) aims to catalyse market systems change in order to benefit poor producers, consumers and employees More details

Global Power Shift and Low Carbon Transformation

Two transformations are likely to dominate the first half of the twenty-first century. One is the shift in economic power from the West (North America and Western Europe) to the East (China and the East Asian production system). The second is the transition from a high to low carbon economy. More details

Green Growth Diagnostics for Africa

This project is looking into the heart of the electricity supply crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. More details

Political Economy of Low Carbon Investment in China and India

This project investigates whether and how coalitions of public, private and civic actors influence low carbon investment. More details

Pro-Poor Access to Electricity

This project is part of an accountable grant provided to IDS by DFID to analyse the factors and policies that increase benefits of renewable electricity provision for the poor and support the design of interventions that take these into account More details

Pro-Poor Electricity Provision

This programme will develop and promote evidence-based policy and programme guidance on low carbon energy investments to benefit poor people, especially women and girls. More details

Rent Management: the Heart of Green Industrial Policy

At the heart of green industrial policy is rent management: government creating and withdrawing opportunities for highly profitable investment. This project asks what the key factors are for rent management to succeed. More details

Who Drives Climate-Relevant Policies in the Rising Powers?

This project is concerned with the political economy analysis of climate change policies. The central question of the project is who drives/obstructs climate change policies in the rising powers, paying special attention to renewable energy policies. More details

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IDS publications on international development research

China's Impact on the Global Wind Power Industry

Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 1/2013 (2013)

China's economic rise has transformed the global economy in a number of manufacturing industries. This paper investigates whether China's transformative influence extends to the new green economy. More details

IDS publications on international development research

China's Impact on the Global Wind Power Industry

Discussion Paper 16/2012 (2012)

This paper investigates whether China’s transformative influence extends to the new green economy. Drawing on the debate about how China is driving major economic changes in the world – the ‘Asian drivers’ debate – it identifies five corridors of influence and investigates their relevance for the wind energy industries. More details

IDS publications on international development research

PEACH - Methodology

The purpose of this note to make some practical suggestions for carrying out the project Political Economy Analysis of Climate Change Policies - the PEACH project. The central question of the project is who drives/obstructs climate change policies in the rising powers. More details

Non-IDS publication

How to Improve Climate Change Technology Transfer to Developing Countries: A Synthesis of the Evidence

Climate Policy 12.3 (2012)

Evidence from econometric literature and business experience on climate change Technology Transfer is reviewed, so as to address the identified pitfalls of the UNFCCC process More details

IDS Working Paper

Competition and Cooperation between Europe and China in the Wind Power Sector

IDS Working Paper 377 (2011)

This paper uses a value chain lens to examine the prospects for competition and cooperation between Europe and China in the global wind power sector. More details

Non-IDS publication

The Role of Technology Transfer for the Development of a Wind Component Industry in Chile

Energy Policy 39.7 (2011)

This paper contributes to the debate about climate change technology transfer by analysing barriers and enablers for a Chilean company starting up the production of windblades. More details

IDS Practice Paper

Tackling Poverty in a Changing Climate: Bridging Concepts and Practice for Low Carbon Climate Resilient Development

This is the second Bridging Paper from the Hub's second learning cycle: Tackling Poverty in a Changing Climate. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Forest Voices: Competing Narratives over REDD+

IDS Bulletin 42.3 (2011)

The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (known collectively as REDD+) initiative has emerged as a means through which individuals, projects and communities in developing countries can be financially rewarded for reducing emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and enhancement of carbon stock. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Deliberating on Low Carbon Development

Energy Policy (2010)

In this viewpoint, we explore some of the underlying issues that are driving the process of mainstreaming climate change in development. Recognising that there are variations in LCD, we map out the diversity of understandings and interpretations with a view to lay out the range of possibilities that countries can consider. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Pro-poor Low Carbon Development and the Role of Growth

International Journal of Green Economics 4.1 (2010)
IDS publications on international development research

The Economics of Personal Carbon Trading: A Review

Climate Policy 10.4 (2010)

Proponents of personal carbon trading (PCT) make strong claims for the policy on the basis of environmental effectiveness, efficiency and equity, in comparison with alternative policies such as 'upstream' trading schemes. More details

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing

After 2015: Pro-Poor Low Carbon Development

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 9.4 (2009)
IDS publications on international development research

Reducing Carbon Emissions: China's Position

Climate Lite (2009)

Action on climate change by developing countries like China requires international support at local and national levels, as well as larger and more predictable streams of funding. More details

Front cover of the In Focus Policy Briefing 7

Climate Change, Energy, and Low-carbon Development in the Chinese Context

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 8.2 (2009)

China faces the challenge of achieving higher levels of development in times of climate change and within a carbon-constrained world. More details