Understanding the Political Economy of Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Development


Climate change has been analysed and (mis)analysed through many angles but surprisingly there has been little on the policy process of climate change, especially on the links between international initiatives and national programs. However, in the light of significant financial flows to climate change and development activities, the international and national political economy of climate change needs to be analysed and better understood.

Despite the impasse at Copenhagen conference of the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC), significant sums of money will be made available under a post-Kyoto framework for climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. This project focuses on two global program initiatives, namely the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR), administered by the World Bank through the Climate Investment Funds, and the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).


  • To provide empirical analysis of how ideas, power and resources are conceptualised, negotiated and implemented at different scales in international climate change initiatives.
  • To develop a new conceptual and methodological framework for understanding the political economy of climate change initiatives.
  • To inform policy and programming on climate change and development through greater understanding and awareness of the political economy dimensions of climate change interventions.

Work on the political economy of international climate change processes was carried out by the IDS core team. This was complemented by 4 country case studies focusing on one particular climate change initiative (Bangladesh, Brazil, Mozambique, Nepal).


Responses to climate change need to be understood through a political economy framework that takes into account ideas and ideology. Previous governance analyses have essentially focused largely on institutions, power, and capacity building, ignoring the political ideological processes embedded in the governance of the sector.

Research and practice needs to go beyond and critique the dominant political process which represents climate change as a global problem requiring global solutions.

Greater attention is required to the translation of global governance processes to national processes. This requires examination of how climate change programmes are conceptualised, negotiated and implemented at the global level. The research project will then see how these programmes are reconceptualised, renegotiated and implemented at the national level.

Project details

start date
1 December 2010
end date
1 May 2012


Recent work


The Political Economy of Climate Change and Development

IDS In Focus 20

Climate change financing initiatives are an increasingly prominent part of international development activities, through mechanisms both inside and outside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

8 November 2011

Journal Article

Political Economy of Climate Change


Despite the inherently political nature of international negotiations on climate change, much of the theory, debate, evidence-gathering and implementation linking climate change and development assume a largely apolitical and linear policy process.

25 March 2011