Climate and health impacts of biomass and petroleum energy futures in Africa

Robert Bailis, University of California, Berkeley
Majid Ezzati, Harvard University
Daniel Kammen, University of California, Berkeley

Biomass fuels are vital to economic activity and welfare in developing nations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Biomass meets more than 90% of the household energy needs in many African nations, used largely in the form of wood, dung, and agricultural residues in rural areas and at end of a charcoal production and supply chain in urban centres. Pyrolytic conversion and combustion of biofuels results in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and a mixture of pollutants that is a cause of respiratory diseases and mortality with an estimated 1.6 million annual deaths globally. Population growth and urbanization are expected to significantly increase biomass use in SSA, and increase pressure on biomass resources which are already managed unsustainably in most regions. We estimated future greenhouse gas emissions and mortality from household energy use, including the role of technological change and land management.

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Presented in Session 6: Environment, climate and population