US Climate and Health Alliance

The Health Impacts of Energy Choices: A Briefing Paper for the Health Community


Access to energy for cooking, heating, transport, and productive activities is essential to human health. Access to electricity is also critical to improving health service delivery, strengthening health systems, and achieving universal health coverage. As the World Health Organization (WHO) observes, “energy access in health facilities is a critical enabler of access to many medical technologies, and thus to health services access. Without energy, many life-saving interventions cannot be undertaken.” Yet 1.3 billion people around the world lack access to electricity and the potential it offers for improving the social and environmental conditions that support better health. At the same time, the generation, distribution, and consumption of energy can have marked adverse impacts on health. In particular, the exploitation of fossil fuels for energy generation has serious implications for human health through its contribution to both local pollution and global climate change. These health impacts accrue into a heavy and largely unaccounted-for economic burden borne by communities, governments, and health systems.

Resource Type
Healthy Energy Initiative
Resource URL
Oct 1, 2015
Organization Type
Health and Human Impact
Climate and Environmental Impact
Emission Sources
Conventional energy Energy Conventional
Fossil Fuel
Climate adaptation/resilience Public health/health sector response
Climate and environmental justice/health equity

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