What are Improved Clean Cookstoves?
Traditional cooking practices 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.
(Source: International Lifeline Fund)
Around the world, 3 billion people cook over open fires or on rudimentary stoves. The cooking fuels used by 40 % 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.
Solution Applications in Alberta
This solution is closely related to health and education, and could be supported by work on increasing biogas for cooking.
This problem is very minor in Alberta. Only a few people in remote areas cook with open fires, and in these areas, the wood harvesting and stoves are relatively modern and clean.
Alberta could support remedial action through foreign aid to countries where this is a more pressing problem.
Substantial research has been done on more efficient stoves. Information can be found in the extensive “appropriate technology” literature. Owner-built “rocket stoves” burn small diameter fuel relatively efficiently, and may be an intermediate technology that can be quickly adopted. A method of distributing this information is needed.
Extending assistance to other countries has many social, logistical and protocol challenges which are beyond the capacity of Drawdown Alberta at this time.
Overall Solution Priority for Drawdown Alberta
Given the high ranking of this Drawdown Solution, the significant environmental and health benefits that result from it, and Alberta’s affluence relative to the countries where this problem is prevalent, it is recommended that Drawdown Alberta:
- Write a letter to University of Calgary School of Environmental Design encouraging them to consider working on this topic, perhaps as an inter-disciplinary project with the School of Social Work
- Write a letter to the Government of Canada External Affairs encouraging them to support work on this topic as a significant part of Canada’s foreign aid program