Skip to main content

The social impacts of the clean energy transition have often been overlooked. Yet, they are tremendously important. Lower-income groups are least responsible for climate change (the poorest 50% of the world’s population contributes only 12% of global emissions) but bear the brunt of climate inaction and have the fewest resources available to cope with its costs. Conversely, the wealthiest 10% of the world’s population is responsible for nearly half of greenhouse gas emissions.

Several governments have, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, adopted clean energy measures with potentially wide-ranging economic and environmental benefits in terms of emission reductions, green job creation, and access to energy-efficient and climate-resilient infrastructure. Yet most governments have also doubled down on support for carbon-intensive investment, propping up fossil fuel consumption and production. A systematic assessment of the poverty and inequality impacts of these exceptional energy policy responses is still missing—and crucial to understanding which population groups stand to benefit and lose the most from the implementation of different types of energy policies.