Firewood is the major fuel for household heating in large parts of Latin America and combustion of wood is a major source of air pollution in the region. Apart from the generated air pollution with associated health damage, firewood combustion is associated with low thermal efficiency, and a significant share of income dedicated to energy, which also determines a high level of energy poverty.
Chile has pioneered a series of air pollution de-contamination plans in cities around the country, addressing one of the main sources of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – heating using firewood. The de-contamination plans of Chile have been implemented, with a lot of lessons learnt. Despite differences in realities of different locations and countries, the Chilean experience enables visualization of strategies, actions and alternatives that lead to tangible air quality improvements in the household energy sector. The plans in Chile include for instance programs to replace heaters with more efficient heating systems that use less fuel to generate the same energy, and are ultimately, less polluting.
Uruguay has recognized that the mitigation potential in the household energy sector is signiﬁcant and would bring additional health, social and economic benefits to the rural and urban communities. Uruguay’s air emissions inventory shows that the main contribution to particulate matter emissions comes from residential use of wood stoves for heating and boilers. This data is consistent with findings from the inventory of greenhouse gases developed by the Municipality of Montevideo, and air quality monitoring.