Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a public-private partnership called the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves to which the US government will donate $50 million to increase the number of clean burning cook stoves in the developing world. In less developed nations, most people cook on stoves that use wood, kerosene or dung for fuel, which can be a major source of pollution for the home and the environment. They release climate change-causing smoke into the air and can cause terrible respiratory problems for the people who use them — it is estimated they cause 1.9 million deaths yearly. This new initiative will put clean burning stoves into the hands of about 100 million people worldwide by 2020.
“Today we can finally envision a future in which open fires and dirty stoves are replaced by clean, efficient and affordable stoves and fuels all over the world — stoves that still cost as little as $25” said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “By upgrading these dirty stoves, millions of lives could be saved and improved. Clean stoves could be as transformative as bed nets or vaccines.” Traditional cook stoves and open fires are the primary means of cooking and heating for about 3 billion people worldwide and women and children make up the majority of the deaths associated with them.
Cook stove emissions contain carbon dioxide, black carbon and methane that contribute to climate change and illnesses caused by those emissions include early childhood pneumonia, emphysema, lung cancer, bronchitis, cardiovascular disease and low birth weight. Biomass burning stoves put a pressure on women an children to spend hours collecting firewood and strain local natural resources, especially in conflict zones and refugee camps where there is a high population density. The target of 100 million clean cook stoves will not only reduce climate change emissions and deaths but will also create local jobs and help bring the cost of cook stoves down — putting them in even closer reach of the 3 billion people worldwide who need them.