Climate change results from an increased concentration of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane associated with economic activities, including energy, industry, transport, and land use patterns. Rich countries emit the majority of these gases, while poor countries are more vulnerable to their negative effects. Further, developing countries are more vulnerable and less able to adapt to these changing climatic conditions because of their locations; greater dependence on agriculture and natural resources; larger variations in weather and temperature conditions; and lower availability of critical resources like water, land, production inputs, capital, and public services.
The inability of developing countries to respond and act immediately to lessen the impacts of climate change will have serious global economic consequences. Appropriate climate change policies, if adopted now, can stimulate pro-poor investment. More specifically, they can increase the profitability of environmentally sustainable practices even as they generate income for small producers and investment flows for rural communities. Climate mitigation through carbon offsets and carbon trading can increase income in rural areas in developing countries, directly improving livelihoods while enhancing adaptive capacity. In its recently released fourth assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that a portfolio of both adaptation and mitigation will be required. This brief supports this conclusion as it explores pro-poor adaptation, risk management, and mitigation strategies in response to climate change.