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The social imperatives for proper lighting and cleaner lighting sources are immense. The positive side of the kerosene lamp story is that off-the-shelf, cost effective and scalable technologies are available to eliminate the use of kerosene lamps, resulting in multiple co-benefits to human health, livelihood and climate. Off-grid solutions, using either individualized solar photo-voltaics or mini-grids with fluorescent or LED lighting, offer the most expedient, efficient, cost-effective and environment-friendly way to bring the 1.3 billion or more people using kerosene lamps into the modern era with respect to illumination inside homes. Villages in South Asia and Africa, covering perhaps over a million homes, have already started adopting such off-grid solutions. The challenge is to scale up to the much larger population using fuel-based lamps. The CCAC could partner with UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative to promote the deployment of off-grid solar lamp systems to the 1.3 billion without access to electricity. In this report, we consider India as an example, and provide quantitative analyses for the cost effectiveness of off-grid solutions. India has about 400 million people (about 80 million households) that are not on the grid and use kerosene lamps instead. Kerosene is subsidized by the government such that the rural poor buy it at a third of the actual cost. Our analyses suggests that about two-years worth of the kerosene subsidy may be sufficient to provide off-grid (or mini-grid) solar lamps for all of the 80 million households.
In this kerosene briefing paper, the CCAC Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) concludes that no other major black carbon source has such a combination of readily available alternatives and definitive climate forcing effects. Given the large economic, development and environmental benefits associated with emissions reductions, replacement of kerosene-fueled wick lamps with fluorescent bulbs or LEDs serviced by low-carbon grid-based electricity or off-grid photovoltaics deserves strong consideration for programs that target short-lived climate pollutants.