We have just published a set of papers for our latest topic, Air Pollution.
Air pollution is the worldâ€™s deadliest environmental problem. It kills 7 million people each year, or one in eight deaths globally. 4.3 million of these deaths are due to 2.8 billion people in the developing world who cook and keep warm inside their homes, by burning dung, firewood and coal â€“ filling their living spaces with smoke and pollutants. Indoor air pollution from cooking and heating with open fires is equivalent to smoking two packets of cigarettes a day.
How do we best address this problem?
As reported in China Daily, The Times (UK), The Australian and multiple Latin American newspapers (e.g. El Universal, Venezuela) providing 50% of these 2.8 billion people with improved cooking stoves â€“ which dispels smoke outside through chimneys and vents, is one effective solution. The stoves are cheap and provide numerous benefits in terms of time, fuel and importantly health. It will save almost half a million deaths each year, and avoid 2.5 billion disease days. For every dollar spent we do $10 worth of good.
However, giving people improved cookstoves is not a panacea for air pollution, even if everyone has one. Why? Because improved cook-stoves, still pollute inside (but less) and at the same time worsen the situation outside by blowing smoke into the community.
Instead, we should aim to eventually have everyone use smoke free sources such as LPG stoves or electricity. The benefits from using LPG stoves are greater, but the costs much greater, so every dollar invested does $2 worth of good.
For outdoor air pollution, the problem is even more difficult. Globally, reaching the WHOâ€™s targets for air pollution, through low-sulphur diesel and car filters is too expensive relative to the benefit.
Cost $B per year
Benefit $B per year
Benefit for Every Dollar Spent
50% of those using unimproved cookstoves switch to improved cookstoves
50% of those using unimproved cookstoves switch to LPG cookstoves
100% of those using unimproved cookstoves switch to LPG cookstoves
Outdoor particulate matter 2.5 does not exceed 35 Âµg/m3
Outdoor particulate matter 2.5 does not exceed 25 Âµg/m3
Outdoor particulate matter 2.5 does not exceed 15 Âµg/m3
Outdoor particulate matter 2.5 does not exceed 10 Âµg/m3
Here, Copenhagen Consensus Center has just released its latest research on Air Pollution targets for the post-2015 development agenda. Bjorn Larsen, independent economist, writes the main report, peer-reviewed in perspective papers by Marc Jeuland, Assistant Professor of Economics at Duke University and Mike Holland, independent economist. An additional viewpoint is provided by Katharina Stepping of German Development Institute.
PhD and Adjunct Professor
President of Copenhagen Consensus Center
PS. The Post-2015 Consensus project brings together 60 teams of economists with NGOs, international agencies and businesses to identify the targets with the greatest benefit-to-cost ratio for the UN's post-2015 development goals. If you have questions about the project, send an email to Research Project Manager Brad Wong by replying to this email.