Climate Inequalities in the Global South: from Perceptions to Protest

Project Description

Aims and central research question

More frequent and severe extreme weather events (e.g., storms, floods, landslides) as well as more gradual environmental changes (e.g., droughts, salinization) are among the most threatening consequences of climate change, causing immense destruction and rendering certain ways of living impossible. This applies especially to countries of the Global South. The distinct pre-existing socio-economic and political inequalities in these low-income states are often further increased by such climate-induced weather events reflecting both the global and national dimension of climate change-related inequality. If the associated grievances become too large, they might trigger political protest. This project therefore addresses the overarching research question: Why and under which circumstances do climate change-induced environmental consequences cause protests? The project has three distinct but interrelated parts which reflect different mechanisms on the macro-, micro-, and meso-level of analysis.


The causes and consequences of climate change are inherently linked to economic, political and social inequalities. While we know much about the causes, we know comparatively little about the social and political consequences of climate change and its link to inequality, especially in those regions, where climate change induced environmental harms are most strongly felt, the Global South. By combining a sociological and a political science perspective, the project strengthens the research at the Cluster in at least three ways by 1) intensifying research on how perceptions turn into participation, 2) conducting comparative research in the Global South and 3) enlarging the thematic scope on social inequality to the very pressing issue of climate change.


  • Expert Interviews
  • Population Surveys in Peru and South Africa
  • Survey with (Inter-)National Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Survey experiments
  • Automated and human coding of protest events
  • Comparative large-n study of protest participation


Koubi, V., Nguyen, Q., Spilker, G., & Böhmelt, T. (2021). Environmental migrants and social-movement participation. Journal of Peace Research, 58

(1), 18–32.

Spilker, G., Nguyen, Q., Koubi, V., & Böhmelt, T. (2020). Attitudes of urban residents towards environmental migration in Kenya and Vietnam. Nature climate change, 10(7), 622-627.


Sociology, Political science

Starting date

June 2022