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Clean Cookstoves

A woman prepares food on an improved cookstove in her home in the Indian state of Gujarat. The cookstove is made of lightweight metal with a metal alloy combustion chamber. This technology maximizes the lifetime of the stove, quality control, safety, and heat transfer, while minimizing emissions.

Around the world, 3 billion people cook over open fires or on rudimentary stoves. The cooking fuels used by 40 percent of humanity are wood, charcoal, animal dung, crop residues, and coal. As these burn, often inside homes or in areas with limited ventilation, they release plumes of smoke and soot liable for 4.3 million premature deaths each year.

Traditional cooking practices also produce 2 to 5 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. They stem from two sources. First, unsustainable harvesting of fuel drives deforestation and forest degradation. Second, burning fuels during the cooking process emits carbon dioxide, methane, and pollutants from incomplete combustion that include carbon monoxide and black carbon.

A wide range of “improved” cookstove technologies exists, with a wide range of impacts on emissions. Advanced biomass stoves are the most promising. By forcing gases and smoke from incomplete combustion back into the stove’s flame, some cut emissions by an incredible 95 percent, but they are more expensive and can require more advanced pellet or briquette fuels.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, launched by the United Nations Foundation in 2010, is one of many organizations working towards universal adoption of affordable, effective, and durable clean cooking technologies.


[use of] open fires [and] rudimentary…stoves: WHO. Burning Opportunity: Clean Household Energy for Health, Sustainable Development, and Wellbeing of Women and Children. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2016; World Bank. State of the Global Clean and Improved Cooking Sector. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2015.

cooking fuels used: World Bank, State.

4.3 million premature deaths: WHO, Burning Opportunity.

household air pollution…death and disability: WHO. WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Household Fuel Combustion. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2014; World Bank, State.

Traditional cooking practices…emissions: Bailis, Robert, et al. “The Carbon Footprint of Traditional Woodfuels.” Nature Climate Change, 5 (2015): 266–272; Adria, Oliver, and Jan Bethge. “What Users Can Save with Energy-Efficient Stoves and Ovens.” Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy, 2013; World Bank, State.

Black carbon [vs.] carbon dioxide: WHO, Burning Opportunity.

household fuel combustion…black carbon emissions: WHO, Burning Opportunity; World Bank, State.

range of “improved” cookstove[s]: World Bank, State.

Gold Standard foundation: Gold Standard. Gold Standard Improved Cookstove Activities Guidebook. Geneva: Gold Standard Foundation, 2016.

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves…ahead of schedule: GACC. Five Years of Impact: 2010-2015, Washington, D.C.: Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, 2015; REN21. Renewables 2016 Global Status Report, Paris: REN21 Secretariat, 2016.

“addressing climate change [and how] people cook”: GACC. “Clean Cooking Critical to Protecting the Environment and Addressing Climate Change.” Washington, D.C.: Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, 2016.

accelerate a next generation of…stoves: Simon, Gregory L., Rob Bailis, Jill Baumgartner, Jasmine Hyman, and Arthur Laurent. “Current Debates and Future Research Needs in the Clean Cookstove Sector.” Energy for Sustainable Development 20 (2014): 49-57.

emissions-reduction opportunity: Bailis, Robert, et al, “Carbon Footprint.”

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