A new international alliance aims to cut the estimated 1.6 million to 1.8 million premature deaths linked with indoor emissions from inefficient cook stoves by boosting the efficiency of around three billion cook stoves across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves was launched, Tuesday, during the 65th session of the UN General Assembly, as part of the Global Clinton Initiative and spearheaded by the UN Foundation.
The initiative can also make a contribution to reducing deforestation by curbing the large quantities of wood and other biomass used to make charcoal or by households switching to alternative fuels including cookers powered by solar energy.
Other fuels include liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and a new one called "gel" fuel consisting of ethanol and organic pulp. Community-based biofuel projects could be developed to make the gel fuel, thus saving households money, generating employment and offering alternative livelihoods.
Health Benefits – Climate Benefits Too
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "In addition to meeting the health targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially among women and children who are often the most exposed to indoor air pollution, the Alliance may have wider and indeed global benefits."
"Inefficient cooking stoves are estimated to be responsible for approximately 25% of emissions of black carbon, particles often known as soot, of which 40% is linked to wood burning", he added.
"According to research under the UNEP-supported Atmospheric Brown Cloud (ABC) project, black carbon could now be responsible for a significant level of current climate change," explained Mr. Steiner.
Indeed, recent studies by the Project ABC team have put the responsibility at between 10% to 40% of current climate change.
Emissions of black carbon may also be accelerating melting rates of glaciers in mountain ranges such as the Himalayas, with the dark particles absorbing sunlight and raising ice temperatures.
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a public-private initiative that aims to create a sustainable global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The Alliance will work in cooperation with non-profit organizations, foundations, academic institutions, governments and UN agencies to overcome market barriers that currently impede the production, deployment and use of clean cookstoves in the developing world.
The Alliance aims to develop a global clean cookstove industry that constantly innovates to improve design and performance, while lowering the cost of stoves, thereby reaching thousands of the world’s poor with cleaner and more efficient household cooking solutions. More efficient cookstoves help reduce the amount of time spent collecting fuel, emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, and create revenues from carbon credits. Additionally, creating an efficient and sustainable clean cookstove supply chain–design, manufacture, and distribution–can help create jobs at the local level.
The U.S. Department of State, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are founding partners of the Alliance, pledging a combined $50.8 million dollars, as well as leadership and expertise to the initiative.