SERIES: Global Views | No. 41 of 49 « Previous | Next »

Black Carbon and Kerosene Lighting: An Opportunity for Rapid Action on Climate Change and Clean Energy for Development



  • Perhaps the most cost-effective approach to displace kerosene lighting with electric lighting is with small off-grid lighting systems that use light emitting diodes (LEDs) and rechargeable batteries.
  • Although LED-based off-grid lighting is at an early stage of commercial development, sales have grown very rapidly over the past few years. Over 1.4 million quality-assured solar LED lights have been sold in Africa
  • Several million household solar photovoltaic systems have been installed since the early 1980s, with greatest adoption in countries such as Bangladesh (over 1.5 million systems), India (over 0.7 million), and Kenya (over 0.3 million)

Replacing inefficient kerosene lighting with electric lighting or other clean alternatives can rapidly achieve development and energy access goals, save money and reduce climate warming. Many of the 250 million households that lack reliable access to electricity rely on inefficient and dangerous simple wick lamps and other kerosene-fueled light sources, using 4 to 25 billion liters of kerosene annually to meet basic lighting needs. Kerosene costs can be a significant household expense and subsidies are expensive. New information on kerosene lamp emissions reveals that their climate impacts are substantial. Eliminating current annual black carbon emissions would provide a climate benefit equivalent to 5 gigatons of carbon dioxide reductions over the next 20 years. Robust and low-cost technologies for supplanting simple wick and other kerosene-fueled lamps exist and are easily distributed and scalable. Improving household lighting offers a low-cost opportunity to improve development, cool the climate and reduce costs.

Download the full paper »

SERIES: Global Views | No. 41