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 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

View all Research Theme's publications

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IDS publications on international development research

Scenarios for a renewable energy transition in Beijing

Energy Policy special issue 'Renewable Energy in China' (2008)
IDS publications on international development research

Are Biofuels Pro-Poor? Assessing the Evidence

European Journal of Development Research 20.3 (2008)
Non-IDS publication

Factors Underpinning Technology Transfers in the Clean Development Mechanism

Joint Implementation Quarterly 13.3 (2007)

The starting point for the study was that sustainable development is a country-context specific concept, which has for the CDM been underscored by the Marrakech Accords. More details

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