Climate change and energy

Policy and research

Installation of a solar panel with support from Caritas Brasileira

Read our latest joint paper on energy and sustainable development

Find out more about fossil fuels and poverty

Climate change poses a huge threat to poverty eradication. Evidence from CAFOD’s 37 partner countries shows that a changing climate is making it more difficult for poor communities to lift themselves out of poverty. 

Pope Francis has called climate change “a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods.” It is “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day”. As such, climate change calls for “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature" – or “integral ecology” (Laudato Si’ or Care for our Common Home). 

The most urgent change needed is to shift from polluting fossil fuels to more sustainable and efficient energy systems. This shift must also benefit the billions of people who currently do not have modern energy. As Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy recognises, universal access to affordable, reliable and safe energy by 2030 is crucial to end poverty and for sustainable development.

Latest climate and energy research papers

Oil and gas need to be phased out rapidly in all regions of the world if we are to achieve global climate change goals and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Renewables already provide cheaper power generation for two thirds of people in the world. They are the least cost option to provide electricity to most people living in energy poverty. Clean energy offers countries a huge opportunity for job creation, sustainable economic development and poverty reduction, allowing them to leapfrog and transition away from polluting fossil fuels. CAFOD, ODI, Christian Aid and Tearfund have published a briefing paper and accompanying FAQs on Oil, Gas and Poverty. This examines the evidence on the relationship between oil, gas and poverty, as well as key considerations in supporting energy pathways to transition to low-carbon development.

Since 2016, CAFOD in collaboration with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has analysed UK public support for energy in developing countries to see if it is aligned with the UK’s climate change and development goals. Our latest research analyses UK support for energy to developing countries for the period 2010-18. This includes the years after the UK’s adoption of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs in 2015. 

In collaboration with the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative and with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), CAFOD has developed first-of-its-kind research on energy safety nets, best practices at the intersection of energy policy and social assistance to protect very poor, vulnerable and marginalized people. 

In collaboration with the International institute for Environment and Development (IIED), CAFOD has developed an inclusive planning approach aiming to integrate energy services into wider development planning and ensure services are financially, environmentally and socially sustainable. Find more about the Energy Delivery Models (EDM) approach

For more about CAFOD’s policy work on climate change, integral ecology and sustainable energy for everyone, see below.

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