Scaling up Gas and Electric Cooking in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Climate Threat or Mitigation Strategy with Co-Benefits?
Nearly three 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 forces (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.
Here, we compare 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. We account for upstream and end-use emissions from gas and electric cooking, assuming electrical grids evolve according to the 2022 World Energy Outlook’s ‘Stated Policies’ Scenario. We input the emissions into a reduced-complexity climate model to estimate radiative forcing and temperature changes associated with each scenario. We find full transitions to LPG and/or electricity decrease emissions from both well-mixed 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 Mt (99%) by 2040, which would substantially lower health risks from household air pollution. Full transitions to LPG or grid electricity in LMICs improve climate impacts over BAU trajectories.
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