1. What is the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and how has it worked to address the environmental and health risks related to cooking over polluting and inefficient cookstoves and fuels?

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) is a voluntary partnership of organizations committed to improving air quality and protecting the climate through actions to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. Our global network currently includes over 120 state and non-state partners, and hundreds of local actors carrying out activities across economic sectors.

Household air pollution is the single most important environmental health risk worldwide, and women and children are at particularly high risk from exposure. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that almost four million people die prematurely each year from ill-health caused by indoor (household) air pollution.

Clean cooking delivers against a wide range of the Sustainable Development Goals, helping improve livelihoods, providing access to clean energy, contributing to gender equality, improving health, conserving ecosystems, and more.

Our goal at the Coalition is to support a thriving market for energy solutions that have significantly lower emissions of short-lived climate pollutants and co-emitted air pollutants, as well as deliver sustained climate and health impacts.

The CCAC Household Energy initiative aims to speed up reductions in short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) emissions through high-level advocacy, support for new finance mechanisms, new research, and development of standards and testing protocols to provide clear criteria for evaluating emissions reductions for improved cookstoves, heatstoves, and fuels. 

The Initiative is led by Chile, Nigeria, Finland, Poland, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Alliance), and the International Climate Cryosphere Initiative (ICCI), in collaboration with other CCAC partner governments, multilateral agencies, and participating non-governmental organizations. The initial phase of the initiative focused on three key components designed to leverage the ongoing research and market mobilization activities of co-leads and other CCAC partners, specifically:

  • Supporting technologies and fuels that reduce emissions of black carbon and SLCPs through the Alliance’s Spark Fund – a grant facility for business capacity development and growth designed to mirror early stage investment;
  • Developing standards and testing protocols to provide criteria for evaluating emission reductions of black carbon, SLCPs, and other co-benefits from the widespread adoption of clean cookstoves -- the ISO standard for lab testing for cookstoves was approved and published in June of this year; and
  • Conducting high-level advocacy to raise awareness among thought leaders and policymakers regarding the climate change impacts of using solid fuels in traditional cookstoves and open fires.

The Coalition is also currently working with partner countries to disseminate the use of improved fuels and stoves, as well as and standards and labelling efforts.

2. How has the CCAC worked with global partners, including with the Alliance, to help advance greater understanding of the impact of cooking on the effects of short-lived climate pollutants? Why is this an important issue to understand? 

Household cooking contributes to global climate change by producing emissions like carbon dioxide, as well as a number of SLCPs, including methane and black carbon. Residential solid fuel burning is responsible for 25% of all black carbon emissions.

Black carbon is a byproduct of poor or incomplete combustion and is estimated to contribute the equivalent of 25 to 50% of carbon dioxide warming globally. It also has local climatic effects. In South Asia for example, black carbon disrupts annual monsoons and accelerates the melting of the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers, threatening water availability and food security for millions of people. These problems are compounded by crop damage from ozone partly produced by cookstove emissions, and from surface dimming that results as airborne black carbon intercepts sunlight.

Since the atmospheric lifetime of black carbon is only a few days, reducing black carbon emissions can bring about a rapid climate response in a short amount of time. Their reduction also produces multiple benefits in areas close to emission sources. Replacing traditional cookstoves with more efficient ones can have a significant impact.

CCAC’s partnership with the Alliance has been of tremendous value as the Alliance has shown leadership and helped streamline climate considerations in the industry. The Alliance has spearheaded the use of South-South Cooperation to advance clean cooking solutions by bringing together policymakers, entrepreneurs, and investors in developing countries to highlight successes and support the exchange of lessons learned on previous work in the clean cooking sector. 

Similarly, the WHO’s Household Energy Assessment Rapid Tool is an invaluable tool in our work with partner countries, just as is WHO’s support. The Coalition Household Energy group has over 140 actors and partners which all contribute at different levels in raising awareness and reducing the burden of inefficient and polluting fuels and stoves on communities around the world.

3. The CCAC is one of the leading partners of the BreatheLife campaign. Can you tell us about this initiative, including the main partners that you are working with, and what you hope the campaign will achieve? 

BreatheLife is a CCAC initiative led by the WHO and UN Environment to raise awareness about the health and climate benefits from improving air quality, and promote solutions to mitigate SLCPs and other air pollutants.

Nearly 60% of premature deaths from household air pollution are among women and children who spend hours around sooty cookstoves burning wood, coal, and kerosene. Shifting to cleaner stoves can have a domino effect of benefits – reducing black carbon emissions as well as the time spent by women and girls in gathering fuel. Key measures and efforts that are being promoted through the BreatheLife campaign include:

  • Low-emission stoves and fuels;
  • Cleaner-burning biomass stoves and other low-emission fuels or stove types to improve air quality in the home and the community, and lower risk of burns or other injuries;
  • Improved lighting;
  • Electric lighting, including PV solar rooftop panels, to reduce reliance on kerosene lamps that emit heavy concentrations of harmful black carbon and other air pollutants; and
  • Passive building design principles.

Reducing the need for extra heating or cooling by designing homes that take advantage of the sun’s natural warming and fresh air ventilation for cooling can also help minimize a home’s air pollution and carbon footprint.

BreatheLife shares stories of success, and examples of actions, from a growing number of 42 cities, regions and countries representing more than 94 million citizens in the BreatheLife Network. Key messages are shared through videos and infographics. To promote improvements in household energy, a new BreatheLife animated video promotes clean cooking, and a video from Nepal produced in cooperation with the Alliance promotes cleaner fuels and cookstoves to improve human health.

4. What is the most striking lesson that you have learned while working in the clean cooking space? What are some promising developments that have come about in the sector in the past few years?

The Coalition is excited to see recent developments in the sector and technology driven solutions such as sensor-enabled stoves and Pay-as-You-Cook solutions. But there’s no silver bullet solution to the problem! This issue is not just a technology challenge—it also requires efforts to address the behavioral, financing, and gender implications of cooking—including consumer affordability, user adoption, and the use of multiple devices and fuels for cooking, as well as for heating and lighting.

For example, through the collaboration with Rural Women for Energy Security (RUWES) in Nigeria the CCAC is working to identify clean, usable stoves that are appropriate for the Nigerian market, and document the specific gaps in technology and usability for existing improved stove options.

- Bahijjahtu Abubakar, National Coordinator of Renewable Energy Programme in Nigeria and former CCAC Co-Chair