Many people rely on traditional and polluting forms of fuel like wood and coal that contribute to health problems and air pollution. How do people make choices about fuel and appliances, and how can policies encourage people to switch to cleaner fuels?

Millions of people in developing countries still cook their food over wood fires, or heat their homes with coal-fired stoves. These traditional fuels can be extremely harmful to the people who use them—producing smoke and airborne pollution that adds to lung and heart disease. Particulate pollution from burning solid fuels was estimated as contributing to 2.2 million deaths in 2005 by the Global Energy Analysis (GEA). Solid fuels also spew pollutants into the atmosphere, from the small particles that cause lung disease, to black carbon and other gases that contribute to climate change.

Switching to cleaner fuels would improve health, help clean the local and global atmosphere, and could even have an immediate impact on climate change. This project explores how people in developing countries make decisions about their household energy use, and looks at what policies are effective for getting people to switch to cleaner fuels. Using the MESSAGE-Access model, a type of energy demand model, along with econometric and statistical analysis techniques, project researchers are looking for effective ways to get people to transition to cleaner fuels.


The GEA estimates that achieving universal access to modern cooking fuels and devices by 2030 could cost between $17 to 22 billion per year but could result in over one million lives saved annually, mostly those of women and children under the age of 5.