Household air pollution, health, and climate change: cleaning the air
Environmental Research Letters
Air pollution from the use of solid household fuels is now recognized to be a major health risk in developing countries. Accordingly, there has been some shift in development thinking and investment from previous efforts, which has focused only on improving the efficiency of household fuel use, to those that focus on reducing exposure to the air pollution that leads to health impact. Unfortunately, however, this is occurring just as the climate agenda has come to dominate much of the discourse
... h of the discourse and action on international sustainable development. Thus, instead of optimizing approaches that centrally focus on the large health impact, the household energy agenda has been hampered by the constraints imposed by a narrow definition of sustainability-one primarily driven by the desire to mitigate greenhouse emissions by relying on renewable biomass fueling so-called improved cookstoves. In reality, however, solid biomass is extremely difficult to burn sufficiently cleanly in household stoves to reach health goals. In comparison to the international development community, however, some large countries, notably Brazil historically and more recently, India have substantially expanded the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in their household energy mix, using their own resources, having a major impact on their national energy picture. The net climate impact of such approaches compared to current biomass stoves is minimal or non-existent, and the social and health benefits are, in contrast, potentially great. LPG can be seen as a transition fuel for clean household energy, with induction stoves powered by renewables as the holy grail (an approach already being adopted by Ecuador as also discussed here). The enormous human and social benefits of clean energy, rather than climate concerns, should dominate the household energy access agenda today.