Reducing Inequality and Poverty while Mitigating Climate Change Key Challenges for Research and Practice in Middle Income Countries in Africa and Latin America

"What is the relationship between emissions, inequality and poverty? Growing wealth supposedly correlates with increasing emissions. Rich countries are historically high in per capita emissions, whereas poor countries have low per capita emissions. African and Latin American non-Annex I countries rank high in the statistics of emissions intensity (IPCC 2007b). Where are the highly unequal middle-income countries in this puzzle? This paper provides some answers to this question and outlines future research on mitigation and inequality. The question is relevant, because developing countries have come under growing pressure to introduce mitigation actions that help to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. These mitigation actions need to be ‘nationally appropriate’ (UNFCCC 2007) and different from those in the developed countries, taking the economic structures, poverty and inequalities into account. Mitigating emissions and reducing poverty at the same time sharpens the trade-­off. Governments need to decide on expenditure of limited resources on poverty or mitigation. According to previous research the need for such a trade-off decreases when countries become richer (Ravallion et al.2000). This implies that governments have a growing option to achieve both ends."