De-Carbonizing Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (DECADE)


In recent years global emission increases have mainly been driven by developing countries’ economic growth, predominantly in Asia. While growth has lifted millions of people out of poverty, it has dramatically accelerated the increase of global emissions. Countries of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) could drive the next wave of carbonization, with energy demand being projected to increase sharply in the coming decades.

The Paris Agreement emphasizes the intertwined relationship between climate impacts as well as emission reductions and sustainable development. Protecting the climate is clearly not the primary societal objective in most countries, and must thus be considered in a wider policy context and be embedded in a broad policy-making process, especially in developing countries.

In their context trade-offs with economic development objectives are salient and climate policy not only means reducing current emissions, but mainly avoiding future emissions and "lock-ins" in energy- and emission-intensive infrastructure. A key question for developing countries is therefore how to forego carbon-intensive development steps.


The project aims to investigate carbonization dynamics and climate policy options in SSA.

More specifically, feasible short term entry points for SSA countries will be analyzed to embark on low-carbon development paths and prevent lock-ins in long-lived infrastructure. 

Results will contribute to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement by analyzing how SSA countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) can be implemented and further supported internationally, e.g. by international climate finance.

We envisage extensive stakeholder interaction with African policy makers, the national and international civil society as well as development actors (e.g. development banks and the donor community).


01.11.2018 – 31.10.2021


The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the funding priority "Economics of Climate Change - Phase II, Climate Protection: Instruments and Policies after COP21".

An overview of the research programme, the associated projects and the accompanying dialogue activities can be found on the website