DeCaDe- Decarbonization Economic Development in Sub-Sahara Africa

Start of Project 11/2018
End of Project 04/2022

As greenhouse gas emissions also increase in sub-Sahara African countries, it is important to identify low-carbon development pathways for the region. The DECADE project contributes to this question: First, we assesses trends and drivers of emissions growth with a special focus on increasing urbanization, structural economic change, changing energy use patterns and deforestation. Upon this overview, we discuss appropriate climate policies to control emissions growth. The analyses particularly focus on distributional impacts of carbon pricing and fossil fuel subsidy reforms on households across and within-income groups. Finally, we investigate the political economy of such policies, providing the political and institutional barriers for low-carbon transformation strategies in selected countries. The research results inform political and societal stakeholders about the extent to which the NDCs can be achieved, the distributional consequences of potential mitigation policies that intend the achievement of these long-term climate targets, as well as the political and contextual factors supporting or hindering a low-carbon transformation. 

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Update on the project´s process

Countries in SSA are among the fastest carbonizing countries in the world. Current plans to invest in fossil infrastructure could lock-in emissions for the decades to come. Yet, emerging anti-fossil fuel activism has a potential to stop the fossil fuel investments. The Lamu Coal Project in Kenya is a striking example of the need for recognition and effective participation of local actors in the design and implementation of energy projects. While implementing climate policy, such as carbon pricing, would be progressive, a carbon price could push people down the energy ladder, with negative effects on human health, female labour supply and nutrition intake. This can be explained by the high prevalence of charcoal and firewood for cooking. Increased usage could also lead to increased deforestation and hence negative implications for climate change. Understanding who would be affected and designing revenue schemes that protect the poor and are institutionally feasible requires to also include non-income factors. Investing revenues from carbon pricing into infrastructure, e.g. improving access to water or electricity, would be highly beneficial for the poorest. 

Preliminary results of the project

Figure X shows how the primary cooking fuel use by households in urban Senegal changed following a fossil fuel subsidy reform in 2008 (in %). It shows a significant decline of LPG use and a significant increase in firewood and charcoal use. Source: Peters&Rose based on DHS data. Use of charcoal and firewood correlates with negative health implications via indoor pollution, adversely impacts female labour supply and women's time use and potentially drives forest degradation. 


Steckel, J. C., Hilaire, J., Jakob, M., & Edenhofer, O. (2020). Coal and carbonization in sub-Saharan Africa. Nature Climate Change, 10(1), 83-88.

Greve, Hannes; Lay, Jann (revise & resubmit): Stepping down the ladder: The impacts of fossil fuel subsidy removal in a developing country. In: Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.

Bensch, G., Jeuland, M., & Peters J. (forthcoming). Efficient biomass cooking in Africa for climate change mitigation and development. One Earth. 

Aggarwal, R., Ayhan, S., Jakob, M.,  & Steckel, J. C. (2021). Carbon Pricing and Household Welfare: Evidence from Uganda. Duke Global Working Paper Series No. 38

Dorband, I., Jakob, M. & Steckel, J.C. (in review). Double progressivity of infrastructure financing through carbon pricing - insights from Nigeria