Clean Cooking: Momentous leap Towards Green Future
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Clean Cooking: Momentous leap Towards Green Future

Clean cooking emerged as an important issue for sustainable development in the early 21st century. With several reasons contributing to this global catastrophe, the one that stands out the most is the worldwide population of 2.4 billion using polluting stoves and solid fuels that led to nearly more than 50% of man-made black carbon emissions and 16% of ambient air pollution. Furthermore, 58 per cent of global black carbon emissions and a gigaton of carbon dioxide per year—approximately 2 per cent of global emissions come from Residential solid fuel burning.

India, ranked third in greenhouse gas production, significantly contributes to household pollution, with a predominantly rural population having limited resources and relying mostly on fossil fuels for energy. As per the International Energy Agency, approximately 70% of India’s populace, which amounts to roughly 800 million people, utilize traditional biomass like crop residue, firewood, and dung cakes as their primary cooking fuel.

Burning of these traditional biomass fuels for cooking has a significant impact on the environment and public health. The smoke from burning these fuels is an essential source of indoor air pollution, which can cause respiratory illnesses and contribute to premature deaths, particularly among women and children who are most exposed to the smoke. In a recent survey by the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019, nearly 600,000 deaths in India in 2019 can be attributed to indoor air pollution.

To ensure the health and well-being of families, India needs to transition towards a more sustainable and clean source of cooking energy. Carbon markets have the potential to provide the funding necessary to bring about large-scale transitions in the world’s energy systems and economies. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Gold Standard (GS), and the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA), in partnership with other organizations and UN agencies, are advocating for the use of carbon markets to promote clean cooking.

Over the past ten years, India has launched significant initiatives to promote clean cooking fuels and reduce dependence on traditional biomass fuels. One of the most notable initiatives is the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), which aims to provide LPG connections to rural households led by women below the poverty line. This program has already provided around 80 million LPG connections to families, leading to improved access to clean cooking fuel and reduced indoor air pollution. Other programs, such as the National Biogas and Manure Management Programme (NBMMP) and the Unnat Chulha Abhiyan, have also been launched to encourage the use of cleaner cooking fuels and more efficient cookstoves.

The Clean Cooking Energy Roadmap is another initiative developed in partnership with NITI Aayog and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It aims to eliminate all cooking arrangements that cause Household Air Pollution (HAP) in India by 2025. It is guided by principles of equity and inclusion and takes a multi-fuel, multi-stakeholder approach. The Roadmap suggests creating a neutral inter-ministerial commission to deliver the recommendations and monitor progress towards a HAP-free India. In addition, it prescribes sectoral, and fuel-specific strategies to transform the supply-side value chains of improved cook stoves, biogas, LPG, piped natural gas, and solar and electricity-based cooking. These strategies incorporate technology and business model development and emphasize credit access for households and enterprises. The Roadmap results from consultations with key ministries and interviews with 30 significant stakeholders in the cooking energy sector, facilitated by NITI Aayog.

Despite all those government and foreign initiatives efforts, a recent report by the Council On Energy, Environment And Water suggests that many Indian households still cannot afford to switch to LPG as their primary cooking fuel. The report indicates that 80 per cent of non-users cited the inability to afford an LPG connection or the recurring expense of fuel as the primary reasons for not having an LPG connection. Moreover, while targeted support under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) has increased LPG access, 38 per cent of Indian homes, particularly in rural areas, continue to use solid fuels due to high refill prices. This underscores the challenge of sustaining the use of clean cooking energy and transitioning households away from the use of traditional fuels.

Finally, the collaboration between the Government and local organizations is crucial in promoting and facilitating a transition towards renewable sources of cooking energy. This shift will promote a cleaner environment and enhance the well-being of individuals involved in cooking.


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