2015 Climate and Environment Review

In Search of Double Dividends from Climate Change Interventions Evidence from Forest Conservation and Household Energy Transitions

Gunnar Köhlin, Eskil Mattsson, Madelene Ostwald, Subhrendu Pattanayak, Ariana Salas, Erin Sills, Daniel Ternald

International development assistance is increasingly shaped by climate change concerns.  Climate interventions have become an increasingly important part of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), reaching 15 % of the total bilateral ODA, or about 20 billion US dollars, by 2013. According to Sustainable Development Goal 13a, this is expected to grow to at least USD 100 billion by 2020.

The dual goals of both combating climate change and reducing poverty increase the demands on project design and implementation – and hence on careful evaluations.

The reports main focus is to find out what we actually know about the multi-faceted impacts of climate interventions and how such interventions should be evaluated in order to assess both their development co-benefits and climate impacts. This is done by making a systematic review of evaluations of climate interventions in the two fields of forestry and energy.

The report was presented during the seminar Double dividends of climate aid – an effective way forward? 

Main findings

  • The study found 22 published impact evaluations of the local impacts of forest conservation interventions designed to address climate change.
  • Local participation in the design of institutions and rules governing forest use often leads to better outcomes for forest conservation and local livelihoods.
  • Almost 100 evaluations of interventions to promote household energy transitions focus primarly on improved cook stoves, rural electrification and other renewables.
  • There is mixed evidence whether improved biomass stoves deliver benefits whereas there is more concrete evidence that rural electrification and advanced cooking technologies deliver health- and socio-economic benefits.
  • The review reveals lack of overlap between what is being evaluated by scholars and the types of projects being implemented on the ground.
  • There is large differences in evidentiary standards between researchers and policy makers and often insufficent local on-site capacity to conduct the evaluations.


  • Donors must coordinate to ensure that scarce aid realizes the benefits of scale and scope.
  • Donors should rely on ecidence and data regerding effectiveness and impact for targeting aid.

Gunnar Köhlin, Associate Professor, University of Gothenburg
Subhrendu K Pattanayak, Professor, Duke University
Erin Sills, Professor, North Carolina State University
Eskil Mattsson, Researcher, University of Gothenburg
Madelene 0stwald, Associate Professor, University of Gothenburg
Ariana Salas, Research Assistant, CATIE
Daniel Tema Id, Research Officer, University of Gothenburg