Strengthening Cooperation for Diversifying Clean Cooking Fuel Options within the Scope of G20 Compacts

“Unless clean cooking finds a lasting place on the global political agenda, more than 2.1 billion people will continue to rely on traditional uses of biomass, kerosene, or coal for cooking in 2030,” mentions SDG 7 Tracking Report 2022.

There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and SDG 7 ensures access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by the year 2030. One of the indicators to measure SDG 7 is access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking. The G20 Bali Leader’s  Declaration 2022 reaffirmed the commitment to achieve  SDG targets and to close the gaps in energy access. Point 12 of the agreement revolves around achieving SDG 7 and the energy transition. Taskforce 4, part of Think 20 (T20), during the Indian presidency (December 2022 – November 2023), deliberates on Clean Energy and Green Transitions. 

Five countries (China, Indonesia, India, and South Africa) among the G20 nations showed remarkable increases in rural access rates for clean cooking fuels and technologies. In spite of the progress, less than 75% of the rural population in these countries had access to clean cooking fuel options in the year 2020. In absolute figures, about 548 million people in India and 352 million people in China are living without access to clean cooking fuels and technologies. Although the access deficit G20 countries have shown remarkable increases in access rates, there is much scope for strengthening the clean cooking initiatives. 

World Health Organization (WHO) identifies solar, electric, biogas, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and alcohol fuels as clean cooking fuels following the Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Particulate Matter (PM) criteria. The G20 countries with access gaps are primarily using LPG as clean cooking fuel to enhance their access rates. However, the success of LPG access initiatives also increases the financial burden on the governments as subsidies are one of the prominent measures of enhancing the affordability of clean cooking fuels.

G20 Energy Transitions Working Group meeting organized in Bengaluru (India) this year had a session on clean cooking which stressed the need to manage fuel prices and choice of technology to see that everyone on the planet has access to affordable energy. Affordability and enhancing cooking fuel choices as well as technologies are considered while moving towards universal access to clean cooking. The Bali Leaders’ Declaration, guided by the Bali Compact, has a strong emphasis on energy transition. The Compact sets nine voluntary principles for the G20 members. Energy security, market stability, diversification of energy mix, net zero emissions, energy efficiency, affordability, and accessibility are among the emphasis points of the principles. The Bali compact and the proceedings of this year’s Energy Transitions Working Group meeting at Bengaluru provide ample scope for strengthening cooperation in diversifying the clean cooking fuel/technology mix among the users. 

International Energy Agency (IEA) in Net Zero Emissions (NZE) by 2050 Scenario includes more of electric cooking and biogas digesters as prominent cooking fuels, although LPG remains the key solution for enhancing access to clean cooking fuels. Including electricity as a clean cooking fuel demands investments in terms of infrastructure and biogas has its own operational challenges at the user’s level. However, in both cases, the source fuel is renewable if we are considering the scenario where renewable energy has the majority of the share in total generation. Households in general, especially in rural areas, depend on more than one cooking fuel. Providing more than one option of clean cooking fuel enhances the chances of usage of at least one option based on the affordability level of the household. 

LPG is a promising option for reaching the goal of universal access to clean cooking fuels and technologies. However, superimposing the NZE targets and ambition of sustainable usage of clean fuels, there is a need to diversify the clean cooking options for the users. G20 with its previous compacts and present focus areas has the opportunity for strengthening cooperation to consider long-term initiatives and investments to introduce other clean cooking fuels and technologies along with LPG to reduce the access gap and achieve the SDG as well as NZE targets.

[Photo by United States Department of Energy, via Wikimedia Commons]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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