Summary The absence of reliable access to clean energy and the services it provides imposes a large disease burden on low-income populations and impedes prospects for development. Furthermore, current patterns of fossil-fuel use cause substantial ill-health from air pollution and occupational hazards. Impending climate change, mainly driven by energy use, now also threatens health. Policies to promote access to non-polluting and sustainable sources of energy have great potential both to improve public health and to mitigate (prevent) climate disruption. There are several technological options, policy levers, and economic instruments for sectors such as power generation, transport, agriculture, and the built environment. However, barriers to change include vested interests, political inertia, inability to take meaningful action, profound global inequalities, weak technology-transfer mechanisms, and knowledge gaps that must be addressed to transform global markets. The need for policies that prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate while addressing the energy needs of disadvantaged people is a central challenge of the current era. A comprehensive programme for clean energy should optimise mitigation and, simultaneously, adaption to climate change while maximising co-benefits for health—eg, through improved air, water, and food quality. Intersectoral research and concerted action, both nationally and internationally, will be required.