Leaders discuss how we can secure clean cooking for 2.9 billion people in 14 years.
The Global Tracking Framework (GTF) shows that access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking - “clean cooking” – has fallen behind electrification, reaching 57.4% globally in 2014 – barely an increase since 2012. In fact, the absolute number of people who still use traditional, solid fuels to cook rose slightly to 3.04 billion in the period, indicating that efforts on this front are lagging population growth. Some 85% of the 3.04 billion people without access to clean cooking live in just 20 countries. If nothing changes, only 72% of the world’s population will have access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking by 2030.
Cooking with polluting fuels poses a major global health issue, with some 4 million premature deaths caused each year by inhalation of carbon monoxide and particulate matter from traditional biomass cook stoves, primarily among women and children. Reducing exposure to these health risks calls for either switching to clean fuels, typically Liquid Propane Gas (LPG), or adopting advanced combustion cook stoves that burn biomass more cleanly and efficiently.
Particularly noteworthy in the GTF were a handful of smaller countries that succeeded in raising access to clean cooking by more than four percentage points annually, including Angola, Bhutan, Maldives and Peru. Many countries showing improvements were also natural gas producers, suggesting that domestic availability of the resource can be an advantage. The achievements of this group of countries shows that faster progress may be possible in future, if the issue receives greater priority on the policy-making agenda. At present, energy access policies often concentrate on the electricity provision rather than clean fuels and technologies for cooking. The removal of direct polluting fuel subsidies like kerosene, campaigns on consumer education and awareness for health risks, and incentives for clean duels and technology scale-up could be important facets of government action. Gender-sensitive measures should also be considered to make a successful transition to clean cooking.