Policy trade-offs between climate mitigation and clean cook-stove access in South Asia

Cameron, C., Pachauri, S. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8138-3178, Rao, N. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1888-5292, McCollum, D., Rogelj, J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2056-9061, & Riahi, K. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7193-3498 (2016). Policy trade-offs between climate mitigation and clean cook-stove access in South Asia. Nature Energy 1 e15010. 10.1038/nenergy.2015.10.

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Project: Advanced Model Development and Validation for Improved Analysis of Costs and Impacts of Mitigation Policies (ADVANCE, FP7 308329)


Household air pollution from traditional cook stoves presents a greater health hazard than any other environmental factor. Despite government efforts to support clean-burning cooking fuels, over 700 million people in South Asia could still rely on traditional stoves in 2030. This number could rise if climate change mitigation efforts increase energy costs. Here we quantify the costs of support policies to make clean cooking affordable to all South Asians under four increasingly stringent climate policy scenarios. Our most sringent mitigation scenario increases clean fuel costs 38% in 2030 relative to the baseline, keeping 21% more South Asians on traditional stoves or increasing the minimum support policy cost to achieve universal clean cooking by up to 44%. The extent of this increase depends on how poliymakers allocate subsidies between clean fuels and stoves. These additional costs are within the range of financial transfers to South Asia estimated in efforts-sharing scenarios of international climate agreements.

Three billion people globally burn solid fuels such as firewood, charcoal, coal, dung, and crop resides in open fires and traditional stoves for cooking and heating. Household air pollution from the incomplete combustion of these fuels globally leads to 4.3 million premature deaths each year, with 1.7 million of those in South Asia. This exceeds the burden of disease from any other energy-related or environmental risk factor. Solid-fuel use also perpetuates income and gender inequality by forcing users, mostly poor women and children, to spend long hours collecting fuels and to suffer from its adverse health effects. To address this problem, the United Nations Secretary-General's Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative and the new Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve universal access to modern energy services by 2030.

Numerous intervention efforts have focused on distributing more efficient and cleaner burning biomass stoves, but several of these programmes have had little or no demonstrable impact on health outcomes. In India, the nation with the largest population of solid-fuel users globally, government interventions have sought to make petroleum-based fuels, such as kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), more affordable through subsidy at an estimated cost of over US$6 billion per year. Although LPG use has grown rapidly, particularly in rural areas, over 72% of Indians continued to rely primarily on solid fuels in 2012.

In the future, expanding clean cooking may become more challenging if climate policies increase the cost of fuels. Previous research has found that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions in Asia and Africa would increase the cost of kerosene and LPG. However, these studies do not explore compensatory policies that could counteract these effects, and assess only a limited set of climate mitigation scenarios. Only two studies explore normative scenarios that achieve access and climate goals simultanously, both of which do not explore the cost-effectiveness or distributional impacts on population subgroups of these policies. Meanwhile, studies that have evaluated the cost-effectiveness of energy access policies have not considered the impact of climate policy. Te latest assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that we have only low confidence in our understanding of the possible impacts of climate policy on access to modern energy services, and medium confidence in the policies needed to counteract them.

In this study, we contribute new insights to the interaction of climate policy and clean cooking acces policies by quantifying the feasibility and costs of achieving universal access by 2030 for a range of climate policy stringencies, and under a wide range of fuel and stove price support policies. Our analysis suggests that the potential trade-offs between the two goals might be arger than suggested by previous studies. However, we find that efficient policy design could partially compensate for the additional access policy costs associated with climate mitigation. Furthermore, these costs fall below the level of potential financial transfers to South Asia that may result from international climate agreements.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Energy (ENE)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:54
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:25
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/11689

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