Today we released a report that shows the potential of improved stoves to benefit the lives of the world’s poorest and to mitigate climate change. Nearly half the world’s households, around three billion people worldwide, eat food cooked on traditional stoves and fires that kill around 1.6 million people a year - most of them children. The report says that a global programme to produce half a billion improved stoves could convert the world’s poor to safer cooking, save hundreds of thousands of young lives a year, and at the same time cut global greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of up to one billion tonnes of CO2 yearly.
The report, ‘Stoking up a cookstove revolution: the secret weapon against poverty and climate change’, gives many examples of stoves programmes across the developing world that provide affordable, robust ‘improved’ stoves that burn less fuel, cook faster and approximately halve harmful smoke emissions. Many use a chimney to remove smoke and gases from the kitchen, improving combustion.
“Efficient stoves are the most direct and affordable way to address climate change, but we need millions and millions of them,” says Dean Still, director of Aprovecho Research Center in Oregon, USA.
There are still hurdles to overcome, says the report. Each improved stove must be designed for local cooking practices and diets and studies show that cultural patterns sometimes prevent their easy acceptance and adoption. According to the Ashden Awards it is essential to use social marketing and education to introduce the stoves sensitively and ensure they are designed according to local cooks’ needs and preferences.
Many clean stoves are designed by social entrepreneurs for local manufacture, and non governmental organisations usually provide training to ensure they meet quality standards. Grameen Shakti in Bangladesh, for example, trains local technicians who build stoves in people’s homes, aiming to provide 10 million stoves in this way by 2015. Substantial investment and support is needed to reach the half billion people who need efficient stoves.
The report suggests that the carbon market can play a useful role in stove programme investment: “We calculate that improved cooking stoves can keep a tonne of CO2 out of the atmosphere for as little as $1 to $3 – an exceedingly good deal in a market where offsets can be sold for $20 to 30 a tonne,” says Fred Pearce, author of the report.
“We think the time has come for greater finance and political will to roll out stoves. Just as donors have grasped the value of rolling out bed-nets against malaria, we want to see improved stoves make a real impact on the poor. Better stoves improve health, save lives, help mitigate the effects of climate change while also saving money,” says Sarah Butler-Sloss founder director of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy.
To download the report and for information on our winners, visit our website.