Climate Change in Developing Countries

Research Focus

The reduction of greenhouse gases and adaptation to a changing environment are the core challenges related to climate change, in particular in developing countries where both untapped mitigation potentials and people’s exposure to changing climate conditions are high. The research group sets out to contribute to this challenge by studying policy interventions to reduce greenhouse pollutants and to foster the poor’s resilience against climate change in developing countries. Particular focus is dedicated to the interrelation between the global climate, local environmental conditions, and poverty.  

Policy interventions that promote energy access hold great promise for reducing greenhouse pollutant mitigation and increasing the poor’s resilience to climate change. Providing improved cookstoves to the almost three billion people who are still using woodfuels for their cooking purposes can slow down deforestation processes, reduce emissions of climate active black carbon and ease the living conditions of the very poor. Furthermore, 1.1 billion people worldwide are living without access to electricity. It is hoped that electrification interventions increase productivity and incomes with obvious consequences for people’s resilience.   

In this regard, high hopes are associated with access to micro-finance in order to allow the poor more flexibility in managing their cash flows. In particular, it is frequently argued that poor households can only bear the investment costs for cleaner and more productive household energy devices such as improved cookstoves or an electricity connection if appropriate financing schemes are available. The research examines socio-economic effects of micro-finance programs as well as the interaction between micro-finance and electricity access or improved cookstoves.  

Both types of interventions also affect the local environment. Here, the research focuses on forests and how to alleviate deforestation pressures. In addition, agriculture land use, fishing conditions in coastal areas and locally harmful waste disposal are examined.

Access to water and sustainable water usage for agricultural processes is of high importance for agricultural productivity, but also people’s health. Since availability of local water sources is expected to be severely affected by global climate changes, both are important adaptation strategies. The research group members study ways to promote more efficient agricultural water usage and a reduction of water contamination.

Gender aspects are a recurrent subject in all our research efforts. Women empowerment and economic development are closely related. On the one hand, women play an important role in the management of local natural resources. On the other hand, it is economic development that drives down inequality between men and women. Prominent research questions are the effect of improved cookstoves on women who have to bear most of the tiresome woodfuel provision work and the effect of electrification on fertility, domestic violence, and female employment.

Methods

The research group employs rigorous empirical methods that are rooted in microeconomic theory, using mostly self-collected data sets. Randomized controlled trials and other quantitative methods are combined with qualitative research techniques. The research group reviews and strives to refine empirical methods to accommodate the complex interrelation between global and local environmental changes and repercussions thereof on the poor. For this purpose, research group members embark on systematic reviews, replication studies, and methodological contributions based on their own applied empirical work in the field.

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