Side view of man sitting next to wood-burning stove in hut

Photo: Istiono Nonox / EyeEm / Getty Images

Nearly 3 billion people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) rely on polluting fuels, resulting in millions of avoidable deaths annually. Polluting fuels also emit short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) and greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and grid-based electricity are scalable alternatives to polluting fuels, but have raised climate and health concerns. This study compares emissions and climate impacts of a business-as-usual household cooking fuel trajectory to four large-scale transitions to gas and/or grid electricity in 77 LMICs.

The research finds full transitions to LPG and/or electricity decrease emissions from both GHG and SLCFs, resulting in a roughly 5 millikelvin global temperature reduction by 2040. Transitions to LPG and/or electricity also reduce annual emissions of PM2.5 by over 6 megatons (99%) by 2040, which would substantially lower health risks from household air pollution.

Full transitions to LPG or grid electricity in LMICs would reduce health risks for over 2 billion people by reducing household exposures and addressing a major contributor to ambient air pollution. Transitions are also likely to result in both near- and long-term cooling.