Despite significant progress in energy access, nearly one in three people worldwide continue to cook their meals over open fires or basic stoves, leading to severe health, economic, and gender-related consequences. However, a new report by the IEA in collaboration with the African Development Bank Group reveals that low-cost solutions could provide billions of people with modern cooking access by 2030.
By investing a relatively modest amount, this critical challenge can be successfully addressed, benefitting global health, gender equality, and the environment, the report said.
Approximately 2.3 billion individuals rely on charcoal, firewood, coal, agricultural waste, or animal dung to prepare meals, exposing themselves to harmful smoke in the process. These rudimentary cooking methods cause 3.7 million premature deaths each year, making it the third leading cause of early mortality worldwide. Women bear the brunt of this issue, as they are responsible for fuel collection and meal preparation, limiting their educational and economic opportunities.
A VISION FOR CLEAN COOKING ACCESS FOR ALL
The new report presents a practical roadmap to ensure clean cooking access for every household worldwide by 2030. IEA’s Executive Director Fatih Birol emphasizes that this universal goal can be achieved with an annual investment of USD 8 billion, a fraction of global energy spending. By addressing this issue, not only can energy access and gender equity improve, but also economic development and human dignity.
IMPACT ON CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT
The basic cooking methods used by populations without access to clean cooking also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in massive deforestation each year. The report highlights the urgency of finding game-changing approaches to this issue and emphasizes that Africa, in particular, requires focused international efforts to achieve clean cooking access.
THE WAY FORWARD
To meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7 and achieve universal access to clean cooking by 2030, approximately 300 million people need access to cleaner cooking means each year. Sub-Saharan Africa represents half of this target, making it a crucial region for concentrated efforts. The benefits of universal clean cooking access include improved gender equality, health, and timesavings, with an annual reduction of 2.5 million premature deaths and significant time freed for other pursuits.
To achieve this goal, an annual investment of USD 8 billion in stoves and infrastructure is needed between now and 2030. This represents less than 1% of global spending on energy affordability measures in 2022. Public and private finance play essential roles in advancing clean cooking, especially in regions with limited fiscal capacity. Concessional and climate financing will be necessary to support projects in the poorest regions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where concessional finance should contribute about half of the annual investment.
The report emphasizes that achieving universal access to clean cooking does not require a technological breakthrough but rather strong political will from governments and development banks. By taking action and addressing this critical issue, we can uplift vulnerable communities, especially women, and make significant strides in eradicating poverty and gender inequality. The time to act is now, as we must not fail the women in some of the world’s most vulnerable areas and work collectively to achieve a future with clean and accessible cooking for all.