Climate, Forests, and Energy

CGD’s research on climate change has focused on solving the collective-action problems that impede international cooperation and devising innovative mechanisms to provide finance for climate adaptation and mitigation. One such mechanism is payment-for-performance agreements to compensate tropical forest countries for the global public goods their trees provide. 

CGD’s work on energy seeks to redefine upward the definition of modern energy access and find ways to deliver the energy needed to help bring prosperity to poor countries.


Poor people in developing countries will feel the impacts first and worst (and already are) because of vulnerable geography and lesser ability to cope with damage from severe weather and rising sea levels. In short, climate change will be awful for everyone but catastrophic for the poor.

Avoiding irreversible catastrophic events due to climate change will not be possible without reducing emissions from forest loss. CGD’s works on tropical forests is investigating performance-based financing mechanisms to help safeguard forests and the benefits they provide to the global climate and more directly to the people who live nearby.

Energy poverty is an endemic and crippling problem.  Nearly 1.4 billion people, including 600 million in Africa, have no access to any electricity, and millions more find power too unreliable or too expensive to achieve real prosperity. Boosting generation and access is a top priority for African governments and success depends on a realistic approach with updated tools.