19 June 2017
"A family just outside Beijing adds coal to their home boiler, while in Nepal yak dung is dried for a heating fire, a technician installs an new wood stove in a house in Northern California, and wood pellets are delivered to a home in Austria. These households, while different in some ways, all share something in common: they are among the many that rely on solid fuels for household space heating, in temperate countries that span all income levels and many regions of the world. Though it is estimated that about 3 billion people use solid fuels--like wood, coal, and dung--for cooking on a daily basis, we understand much less about the households who use solid fuels for heating.
Zoe at a 2 GW combined heat and power plant in Warsaw, which supplies more than half of Warsaw's households with district heating.
I recently had the opportunity to return to IIASA to discuss how we might refine estimates of where families heat with solid fuels, how much fuel they use, what emissions result from this fuel use, and how these emissions influence health, air quality, and climate change mitigation goals. The GAINS model, hosted by IIASA's AIR program, is one of the only resources available to separately estimate household heating and cooking emissions on a global scale.
By improving estimates of emissions from the household heating sector, and specifically solid fuel combustion in homes, I work to better explain the full environmental and human health impacts associated with the use of these fuels, whether that use is by choice or by necessity.
My current research builds on work I began during my wonderful YSSP summer at IIASA, to better understand the ambient air pollution and health impacts of household cooking with solid fuels, as well as later work on heating in Europe and North America that was done in collaboration with Zig Klimont and others.
During my recent visit to IIASA, I was lucky to be able to visit with five of my YSSP colleagues, as well as my research supervisor, Fabian Wagner, and several other great researchers in ENE and AIR (including Pallav Purohit and Shonali Pauchari) with whom I have developed lasting relationships as a result of my time at IIASA.
YSSP was a breakthrough opportunity for me, allowing me to better understand the resources available to study emissions trends from household energy use on an international basis. It was also the source of lasting collaborations that have enriched my work."
Zoe with ENE and TNT YSSPers in 2009.
Zoë Chafe is a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell University's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Her work spotlights the ambient air pollution, health, and climate effects of household energy use, with a focus on navigating potential trade-offs or co-benefits between climate change mitigation and local air quality goals. She has served as the IPCC AR5 Human Health Chapter Scientist, a lead author of the Global Energy Assessment, and consultant to the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health. She holds an MS and PhD from the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) at the University of California, Berkeley; a Master's in Public Health (MPH), also from UC Berkeley; and a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University. Prior to graduate work, she was a research associate with the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, DC.
Last edited: 19 June 2017
IIASA Network and Alumni Officer Communications and External Relations Department - Communications and External Relations Department
Chafe, Z., Brauer, M., Heroux, M.E., Klimont, Z. , Lanki, T., Salonen, R.O., & Smith, K.R. (2015). Residential heating with wood and coal: health impacts and policy options in Europe and North America. WHO Europe
Chafe, Z.E., Brauer, M., Klimont, Z. , Van Dingenen, R., Mehta, S., Rao, S., Riahi, K. , Dentener, F., et al. (2014). Household cooking with solid fuels contributes to ambient PM2.5 air pollution and the burden of disease. Environmental Health Perspectives 122 (12), 1314-1320. 10.1289/ehp.1206340.
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