6th Special ERG Call on Climate Change (OPEN- Deadline: 19th August 2024)

The deadline to apply is 19th August 2024. 

Lower-income countries face a dual crisis of climate and environmental degradation. South Asian and Sub-Saharan African countries are among the most vulnerable to climate change. Among all countries in the world, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India rank as the three countries with the worst air quality

The private sector is central to addressing both climate and environmental crises. The Private Enterprise in Low-Income Countries (PEDL) programme invites proposals on projects aimed at understanding the role of firms in addressing climatic and environmental challenges in PEDL-priority countries. Proposals responding to this call should make clear how the research addresses firms. Projects may examine the role of firms as individual entities or the interaction of firms within markets. PEDL does not focus on agriculture, although we are open to projects exploring firm-farm interactions through input and output markets.

We encourage proposals related to adaptation and resilience in the face of climate change, and projects on mitigating pollution and improving local environmental conditions. On climate change mitigation, we are particularly interested in proposals that provide evidence on the costs and benefits to firms in PEDL-focus countries.

Even with deep emissions cuts, a large proportion of the world's population will bear some costs of climate change, rendering adaptation critical. We welcome proposals that investigate the role of the private sector in climate adaptation, as well as what policies and interventions may facilitate climate adaptation by firms. This could include the use of financial technologies, location choice, innovations, management practices, networks, and policies. We also encourage proposals that explore the political economy constraints and the market frictions interfering with the implementation of policies on firms' adaptation.

The Exploratory Research Grant programme is aimed at seeding new research agendas that might lead to more extensive projects as they develop. PEDL supports this scaling through Major Research Grants (MRGs), and through a Scale-up Grant program that aims to bridge the gap between the initial work of an ERG and a full-scale project. We therefore encourage ambition in the proposals, even if this call only allows for pilots or other initial steps in developing the agenda.

In the interest of clarity and to stimulate thinking, we list below several topics and examples of research topics. This list is not meant to be exhaustive and we invite proposals for research in PEDL-priority countries in any area on the role of the private sector in addressing issues related to climate change and the environment.

The budget limit for ERGs is £40,000. These grants will fund research assistance, data collection and new surveys in LICs, and (if necessary) teaching buyouts for the principal investigator. Please note that cost effectiveness and value for money are important evaluation criteria and costs considered to be unreasonable may result in a lower proposal rating. Please refer to the ERG budget guidelines for further guidance on research stipends.

The required special proposal forms and budget guidelines are found at the bottom of this page. The deadline for proposals is 23:59 GMT, 19 August 2024.

Topic areas and sample research topics:


The private sector plays a role in developing a reliable electric grid necessary to meet growing demand of firms and households. There is an interaction between investment and regulatory policy, especially as the latter relates to long-term power purchase contracts.

  • How can renewables and storage support the development of reliable electricity grids?
  • What are the sources of regulatory and investment risk for private sector investment in renewables, and how can these be mitigated?


Adoption of electric vehicles is increasing in high-income countries, and investment in electric motorcycles and three-wheelers is increasing in Africa and South Asia. But electric mobility is only one aspect of transport. Mass transit systems and streamlining transport logistics are also very active areas in PEDL-focus countries. 

  • How can firms help to overcome challenges to adoption of electric transport?
  • What is the role of the private sector in mass transit?
  • What are the constraints to increasing efficiency of transport of goods? What role can the private sector play in addressing these?

Industrial Production

Energy use in industrial processes contributes around one-quarter of CO2 emission globally. From a development perspective, the effect of industrial production on air quality is at least as important. Brick kilns alone are estimated to be responsible for as much as 58% of PM2.5 in Dkaka in the dry season. 

  • What is the role of the innovation and technology adoption is reducing emissions of both PM 2.5 and GHGs?  
  • How can policy interact with the private sector to achieve results?
  • What determines the uptake of energy-saving innovations by private sector firms?


GHG emissions of producers of exported goods may be thought of as induced by the final consumers of those goods. Tariffs in both producing and consuming markets may skew prices of carbon-intensive and non-intensive goods. 

  • How do import policies impact production decisions and technology adoption?  
  • How are climate mitigation demands of consumers in higher-income countries transmitted through buyers to producers in lower-income countries?

Markets for risk

Insurance is an important factor in resilience at the level of the farmer or firm. Insurance may also be necessary to encourage investment in capital-intensive sectors like grid-scale renewables. 

  • How are the effects of climate change distributed across firms of different sizes, sectros and locations?  
  • What innovations are required in local insurance markets to mitigate the increased risks arising from climate change?  
  • In the absence of full insurance markets, what are the adaption strategies of firms in PEDL-focus countries?


Innovation will play a major role in the resolution of either of these crises. 

  • What are the constraints that private enterprises face with respect to the creation, adoption, diffusion, and financing of new climate-friendly technologies, be they internal (e.g., management) or external (e.g., finance, market prices) to the firm?
  • How amenable are these constraints to policy intervention?
  • How far is green tech imported versus produced domestically in PEDL-focus countries?


Grant Set-up:

ERG projects typically run for 12 months.

Please note that contracts should be signed within one month of the outcome notification, which is also the expected start date for the projects.

ERGs are designed to be contracted directly with individual researchers. The individual researcher will be responsible for receiving, spending and reporting on funds. There should be no institutional involvement. In exceptional circumstances and with significant justification contracts can be drafted with the individual's institution, but these are non-negotiable and the institution cannot take any overhead fees.

For further information on ERGs, please consult the FAQs.


Country Criteria:

PEDL priority countries can be found here : the list includes all LICs and FCDO-focus LMICs. We are particularly interested in generating research in countries on which less research is currently being conducted. This means that countries with very active research (e.g., India and Indonesia) are lower priority. Proposals for research in these countries will need to justify why the research needs to be carried out there, and how the results are relevant to PEDL priority countries. 

PEDL will consider proposals for research in non-listed LMICs but they should make a clear case for the relevance of the research to policy in LICs, and also justify why the research is only feasible in a non-target country (e.g. because of exceptional data availability). Note that we are currently unable to fund projects located in Myanmar and Palestine.



Given the ongoing and varied impacts of COVID-19, it is expected that proposals involving face-to-face interaction will clearly explain their planned safety measures and contingency plans in the proposal. We encourage proposals that make use of existing administrative data or collect information through other means such as phone surveys so long as this is feasible and won’t diminish the quality of the data collected. If you have questions on this, please contact the PEDL team at [email protected].


Application Resources:

Information Pre-Application:

Application Templates:

For PEDL Grant Holders: