Article | Published:

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

Nature Energy volume 1, Article number: 15010 (2016) | Download Citation


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 stringent 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 policymakers 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.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Household Air Pollution and Health (WHO, 2014).

  2. 2.

    et al. Solid fuel use for household cooking: Country and regional estimates for 1980–2010. Environ. Health Perspect. 121, 784–790 (2013).

  3. 3.

     & Making the clean available: Escaping India’s Chulha Trap. Energy Policy 75, 410–414 (2014).

  4. 4.

    et al. Millions dead: How do we know and what does it mean? Methods used in the comparative risk assessment of household air pollution. Ann. Rev. Public Health 35, 185–206 (2014).

  5. 5.

    Sustainable Energy for All: A Vision Statement by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations (United Nations, 2011);

  6. 6.

    ,  & The UN’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative is compatible with a warming limit of 2 C. Nature Clim. Change 3, 545–551 (2013).

  7. 7.

    The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming all Lives and Protecting the Planet—Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General on the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda (United Nations, 2015).

  8. 8.

     & Patterns of stove use in the context of fuel-device stacking: Rationale and implications. Ecohealth 12, 42–56 (2015).

  9. 9.

    Lessons Learned from Attempts to Reform India’s Kerosene Subsidy (International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2010).

  10. 10.

    Report of the Expert Group to Advice on Pricing Methodology for Diesel, Domestic LPG and PDS Kerosene (Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India, 2013).

  11. 11.

    International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Bank Sustainable Energy for All 2015—Progress Toward Sustainable Energy (World Bank, 2015).

  12. 12.

    ,  & Balancing Energy Access and Environmental Goals in Development Finance: The Case of the OPIC Carbon Cap (Center for Global Development, 2014).

  13. 13.

    Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (eds Core Writing Team, Pachauri, R. K. & Meyer, L. A.) (IPCC, 2014).

  14. 14.

    et al. Implications of greenhouse gas emission mitigation scenarios for the main Asian regions. Energy Econ. 34, S459–S469 (2012).

  15. 15.

    et al. Implications of the international reduction pledges on long-term energy system changes and costs in China and India. Energy Policy 63, 1032–1041 (2013).

  16. 16.

    ,  & Model projections for household energy use in developing countries. Energy 37, 601–615 (2012).

  17. 17.

    , ,  & The effect of African growth on future global energy, emissions, and regional development. J. Climatic Change (2013).

  18. 18.

    et al. Synergies in the Asian energy system: Climate change, energy security, energy access and air pollution. Energy Econ. 34, S470–S480 (2012).

  19. 19.

    Roads from Rio+20 Pathways to Acheive Global Sustainability Goals by 2050 (PBL, 2012).

  20. 20.

    , ,  & Determinants of household energy consumption in India. Energy Policy 38, 5696–5707 (2010).

  21. 21.

    et al. Pathways to achieve universal household access to modern energy by 2030. Environ. Res. Lett. 8, 024015 (2013).

  22. 22.

    et al. WHO indoor air quality guidelines on household fuel combustion: Strategy implications of new evidence on interventions and exposure–risk functions. Atmos. Environ. 106, 451–457 (2015).

  23. 23.

    et al. Can currently available advanced combustion biomass cook-stoves provide health relevant exposure reductions? Results from initial assessment of select commercial models in India. Ecohealth 12, 25–41 (2015).

  24. 24.

    WHO Indoor Air Quality Guidelines: Household Fuel Combustion (WHO, 2014).

  25. 25.

    et al. in Global Energy Assessment—Toward a Sustainable Future 1401–1458 (Cambridge Univ. Press and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 2012).

  26. 26.

    et al. inGlobal Energy Assessment—Toward a Sustainable Future 1203–1306 (Cambridge Univ. Press and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 2012).

  27. 27.

    ,  & Rural and Urban Dynamics and Poverty: Evidence from China and India (International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 2005).

  28. 28.

    Unit-level Data from the Household Consumer Expenditure Survey Round 61 (National Sample Survey Organization, Ministry of Statistics, Government of India, 2007).

  29. 29.

    Global Energy Assessment—Toward a Sustainable Future (Cambridge Univ. Press and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 2012).

  30. 30.

    et al. Emission pathways consistent with a 2 C global temperature limit. Nature Clim. Change 1, 413–418 (2011).

  31. 31.

    et al. What does the 2 C target imply for a global climate agreement in 2020? The limits study on Durban platform scenarios. Clim. Change Econ. 4, 1340008 (2013).

  32. 32.

    ,  & Emulating coupled atmosphere-ocean and carbon cycle models with a simpler model, MAGICC6—Part 1: Model description and calibration. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 11, 1417–1456 (2011).

  33. 33.

    et al. Greenhouse-gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2 C. Nature 458, 1158–1162 (2009).

  34. 34.

    ,  & Global warming under old and new scenarios using IPCC climate sensitivity range estimates. Nature Clim. Change 2, 248–253 (2012).

  35. 35.

    , ,  & Implications of potentially lower climate sensitivity on climate projections and policy. Environ. Res. Lett. 9, 031003 (2014).

  36. 36.

    Direct Benefit Transfer (Ministry of Finance, Government of India, 2015);

  37. 37.

    , ,  & Informing India’s Energy and Climate Debate: Policy Lessons from Modelling Studies (Climate Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, 2015).

  38. 38.

    et al. Making or breaking climate targets: The AMPERE study on staged accession scenarios for climate policy. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Change 90, 24–44 (2015).

  39. 39.

    Economic Survey 2014–15 (Ministry of Finance, Government of India, 2015).

  40. 40.

    et al. The distribution of the major economies’ effort in the Durban platform scenarios. Clim. Change Econ. 4, 1340009 (2013).

  41. 41.

    Kerosene subsidies in India: When energy policy fails as social policy. Energy Sustain. Dev. 16, 35–43 (2012).

  42. 42.

    , ,  & The carbon footprint of traditional woodfuels. Nature Clim. Change 5, 266–272 (2015).

  43. 43.

    ,  & Health and climate benefits of cookstove replacement options. Energy Policy 39, 7530–7542 (2011).

  44. 44.

    et al. A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010 A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet 380, 2224–2260 (2012).

Download references


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme FP7/2007-2013 under grant agreement no. 308329 (ADVANCE).

Author information


  1. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria

    • Colin Cameron
    • , Shonali Pachauri
    • , Narasimha D. Rao
    • , David McCollum
    • , Joeri Rogelj
    •  & Keywan Riahi


  1. Search for Colin Cameron in:

  2. Search for Shonali Pachauri in:

  3. Search for Narasimha D. Rao in:

  4. Search for David McCollum in:

  5. Search for Joeri Rogelj in:

  6. Search for Keywan Riahi in:


C.C., S.P., N.D.R. and K.R. formulated the research question and conceived the model concept. C.C. implemented the concept by programming and developing the Access model. C.C. and D.M. integrated the Access model into the existing MESSAGE modelling framework. C.C. ran the scenarios. J.R. contributed post-processing analytical tools and input on interpretation of the results, as well as the figures. C.C., S.P. and N.D.R. drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to editing and discussing the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shonali Pachauri.

Supplementary information

About this article

Publication history