Clean Cooking

The Environment

Clean Cooking Protects the Climate and Environment

Cooking over open fires or inefficient stoves typically entails burning fuels (such as wood, charcoal, coal, and kerosene) that release harmful, climate-warming emissions.

These emissions of short-lived climate pollutants—such as black carbon and methane (CH4), as well as other greenhouse gases, such as carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2)—occur because of the incomplete combustion of kerosene and solid fuels during this form of cooking. 

As a result, household energy use makes up more than half of all global black carbon emissions, the second largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. Clean cooking is vital to combating global climate change and reducing environmental degradation.

Why Clean Cooking

The Issue

Black carbon, commonly known as soot, is by far the most significant short-lived climate pollutant emitted during cooking. Black carbon particles absorb sunlight, thereby warming the atmosphere, and are estimated to be second only to CO2 in their warming impact on the climate.

While black carbon remains in the atmosphere for only a short period of time, it then falls back to Earth with precipitation, where it darkens the surface of snow and ice and reduces their reflecting power, which causes the melting of sea ice and glaciers. Globally, as much as 25% of black carbon emissions come from household cooking, heating, and lighting. In many Asian and African countries, household cooking can account for as much as 60%-80% of black carbon emissions.

With nearly 2.4 billion people relying on firewood and charcoal (woodfuel) for cooking, woodfuel is by far the most commonly used solid fuel. The CO2 emissions from cooking with wood and charcoal are caused by woodfuel that is harvested unsustainably – that is, a rate that exceeds regrowth. This leads to forest degradation that reduces the ability of trees and shrubs to absorb emitted carbon from the air. Around 30% of the woodfuel harvested globally is unsustainable, accounting for 2% of global climate-damaging emissions. Forest degradation also causes losses in erosion control, biodiversity, and flood protection.

Source: Clean Cooking Alliance

The Solution

Many of today’s more modern stoves are highly efficient and can reduce fuel use by 30%-60%, resulting in fewer emissions of greenhouse gas and black carbon.

Recent evidence also demonstrates that the most advanced (efficient and low-emission) cookstoves and fuels can reduce black carbon emissions by 50%-90%. Well-managed woodlots produce sustainable woodfuel, reducing CO2 emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018) acknowledges that reducing black carbon, methane, and other short-lived climate pollutants would not only have substantial co-benefits on health and air pollution, but can, in the short-term, contribute significantly to limiting global warming to 2 degrees celsius, a long-term international goal for avoiding the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

Source: Clean Cooking Alliance

global map 2014_emissions_0.png

Source: Boden, T.A., Marland, G., and Andres, R.J. (2017). National CO2 Emissions from Fossil-Fuel Burning, Cement Manufacture, and Gas Flaring: 1751-2014, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2017.​


Source: IPCC (2014)Exit based on global emissions from 2010. Details about the sources included in these estimates can be found in the Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Cultural Caveat

Whatever you call it, developing nations or third world countries, typically these countries have more natural resources and simply a different way of living than "more developed nations". The reality is corporate greed can be found wherever there is an opportunity. Many of these "clean cooking" methods which seek to change the cooking stoves and cooking fuels that these countries use. 


One must ask are companies seeking simply to profit in a climate where climate change is necessary - in manners that are simply not areas where climate change initiatives are needed or will make the strongest impact: profit simply for profits sake.  

Again, "developing nations" typically are rich and natural resources. Wood can easily be replenished by planting another tree. Buying something that one neither needs or is in there budget can cause unnecessary economic burden. However, if all of the world now changed to these new technologies: cooking stoves and fuels that open up new markets and require continuously purchasing fuels rather than using what God has given us freely: wood - such moves and motives can keep "developing nations" just that a developing nation. Encouraging borrowing and financing for technologies that are not necessarily a need.

The bible encourages us to be lenders and not borrowers. In fact some of the best restaurants in the United States use wood and more traditional stoves creating some of the most delicious foods. In fact these "developing nations" often eat less processed and refined foods, which lends itself to better health. There farming and food production processes are less based on science and chemicals and on traditional, natural and biological processes. Again, resulting in healthier eating. The United States being one of the most obese countries with poor diets lacking much needed nutrients. The foods found in the United States are too often full of chemicals and scientifically manufactured food products and additives as well as a plethora of foods produced on industrial farm complexes. 

Indeed, small local farmers and consumers in the United States are seeking to move back to more organic food production practices often found in these "developing nations". The simple reality is that these cook stoves must be manufactured. The question around manufacturing is always: what is the carbon footprint for producing these so called climate friendly technologies. How are the fuels prepared for use? What is that carbon foot print for that? When a climate change analysis is done, which approach is more advantageous to producing positive climate change?

Nearly a 5th of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States comes from gasoline vehicles. The majority of greenhouse gases come from developed nations with the rest of the world producing about the same emissions as China alone. China being one of the world's top manufacturers of goods. So, perhaps we should ask ourselves first what we can do as developed nations to circumvent greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps we should ask these "developing nations" what they are doing right. Perhaps manufacturing so called clean cook stoves is not the proper solution. Perhaps NGOs do not always offer or produce the best results for the "developing nations" they so often propose to be helping. Perhaps developed nations are very good at producing ideas motivated by profit rather than putting people first.

Of the developed and between developing and developed nations Japan and India respectively do the best job at curtailing greenhouse gas emissions. India having nearly a fifth of the world's population. Japan making up a small portion of the world's population.  

Source: Shidonna Raven (TM) Garden and Cook. All Rights Reserved. Copyright.

An excerpt from Next Billion:


But the key questions remain: Which of these solutions can be scaled, and which can be classified as “clean” cooking? There continues to be a considerable debate on how cleanliness of burn is defined. But based on the internationally defined clean cooking standards, there are only a few solutions that meet the cleanest (tier 4 and 5) standards, which eliminate household air pollution. And few of these solutions are scalable today, and able to meet the SDGs in the near term. Let’s take a look at some of these approaches:

  • Electric cooking powered by solar or mini-grids is growing in the clean cooking conversation. But even with the reduced costs of these technologies in the past decade, few affordable solutions currently exist for low-income consumers living in urban areas let alone rural areas in emerging markets.

  • Ethanol cooking has failed to demonstrate scale over the last 20 years, because the supply of this clean renewable gas is unreliable and constrained by logistics costs, which means it must be localized. The supply is also based on harvest and climate patterns, and the scale-up of its supply chain is complex and expensive.

  • Biomass pellet stoves have been gaining a lot of attention in the past few years, with a recent World Bank program aiming to reach over 17 million people in Bangladesh. But like ethanol, the supply chain for pellet production and distribution is complex, geographically limited (requiring localization), and still unproven at scale. A major draw-back can also occur when customers misuse the stove or burn biomass other than pellets, losing the tier 4 emissions and efficiency benefits.

  • Liquified Propane Gas (LPG) is the cause of much debate in a development industry rooted in renewable energy solutions, because it is a fossil fuel. Despite conventional LPG being non-renewable, LPG is the most cost-effective, cleanest burning fuel which is widely available. While there is a slight rise in C02 with LPG, net climate impact from cooking comes from non-CO2 emissions like methane and black carbon – therefore LPG contributes less to global warming than even efficient biomass stoves. This means there is a net climate benefit in converting a household from using a traditional stove with unsustainably harvested charcoal to a clean-burning LPG stove.

Clean Food
Alternative Definition

Clean Cooking - An Alternative Definition

Clean cooking as an "alternative definition" is the use of whole foods (including oils and spices), the use of natural and organic cooking equipment, tools and utensils to create whole and nutritious meals.

Source: Shidonna Raven (TM) Garden and Cook. All Rights Reserved. Copyright.