Improving energy efficiency and technology of energy use in urban areas and homes has the potential to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions and improve health. These are the conclusions of Dr Paul Wilkinson, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK and colleagues, authors of this fourth paper in the Lancet's Series on Energy and Health, titled "Energy, energy efficiency and the built environment."
The paper discusses policies and technologies which could improve protection against temperature-related death and illness, and lead to the alleviation of fuel poverty. A shift towards renewable energy production would also put increasing focus on cleaner energy carriers, especially electricity, but possibly also hydrogen, which would have benefits to urban air quality and health. Other restructuring plans for built environments could help reduce the risk of obesity (and its related health impacts) by encouraging more physical activity.
The authors conclude: "In low-income countries, a vital priority remains the dissemination of affordable technology to alleviate the burdens of indoor air pollution and other health effects in individuals forced to rely on biomass fuels for cooking and heating, as well as the improvement in access to electricity, which would have many benefits to health and wellbeing."