J-PAL’s King Climate Action Initiative (K-CAI) supports pilot studies, randomized evaluations, and scaling projects at the nexus of climate change and poverty alleviation. Three years ago, the initiative concluded its first funding competition. Since then, K-CAI has generated evidence that has informed real-world policy design and implementation, including the ongoing scaling of five evidence-informed climate policies that cut emissions and/or increase the resilience of communities severely affected by climate change.
Climate impacts are worsening worldwide, as evidenced by extreme heat and weather this summer, and people living low- and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected. Climate change threatens the lives and livelihoods of communities who have contributed least to the climate crisis, and has the potential to reverse decades of progress in global poverty alleviation.
K-CAI, in partnership with King Philanthropies, is dedicated to addressing this challenge by innovating, testing, and scaling high-impact solutions to combat climate change and poverty.
K-CAI’s growth over three years
K-CAI has supported and launched 13 scaling projects and 32 randomized evaluations across 21 countries—increasing researchers in the J-PAL network evaluating policies at the nexus of climate change and poverty alleviation by 195 percent.
In the three years since K-CAI’s first funding competition, K-CAI-funded researchers have collaborated with 26 government partners, 22 NGOs, and 22 private sector businesses, including the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, the City of Cape Town, BRAC, and Centre for Net Zero founded by Octopus Energy. Below are five examples of how evidence generated through K-CAI is informing policies or being applied directly at scale by decision-makers.
Stories of informing climate policy with evidence
K-CAI-funded research is beginning to yield actionable insights that are increasingly being used by policymakers to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
The Government of Gujarat is working with a K-CAI-funded research team, J-PAL South Asia, and EPIC India to scale an emissions trading scheme (ETS) for particulate matter to address severe air pollution in India. The ETS has been scaled in Surat, a city with 6 million people living in its airshed, and in Ahmedabad, home to 9.3 million people in its airshed. The research team, including J-PAL affiliated professors Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande, Nick Ryan, and Anant Sudarshan, found that the emissions market reduced plant pollution by 20–30 percent on average, as well as industries’ average costs associated with pollution abatement. Several other states are also exploring plans to launch emissions markets informed by this work.
In the United States, the Colorado Department of Public Health is using a machine learning model, developed and field-tested by a K-CAI-funded research team, co-led by J-PAL affiliated professor Michael Greenstone, to target methane inspections more effectively. As part of their long-term partnership, they are now investigating if inspections triggered by real-time emissions data can further improve compliance and reduce emissions from oil and gas facilities.
In Bangladesh, a K-CAI-funded research team is working with government partners to reduce emissions from brick manufacturing. They are building on promising preliminary results from a K-CAI-funded randomized evaluation to scale a training on proper operation of zigzag kilns, which were found to significantly reduce carbon and particulate matter emissions and increase the value of inventory when used correctly. As brick manufacturing in South Asia is dominated by inefficient coal-burning kilns, the training could significantly reduce emissions in the industry. In collaboration with the government, brick manufacturers, and local research institutions, the K-CAI-funded team, including J-PAL affiliated professor Grant Miller, J-PAL invited researcher Stephen Luby, and Nina Brooks, is working to scale the training program to zigzag kilns across the Dhaka region through 2025.