Foreign Policy Blogs

Better Stoves = Less Pollution

alliance_logo_final_large_200_1There is a very good story in the NYT about an initiative being launched today to finance clean-burning cookstoves for the developing world.  I have written about the pernicious health impacts of burning biomass in open fires and the burden of black carbon deposition that so badly exacerbates global warming.  The NY Times reports “Nearly three billion people in the developing world cook their meals on primitive indoor stoves fueled by crop waste, wood, coal and dung. Every year, according to the United Nations, smoke from these stoves kills 1.9 million people, mostly women and children, from lung and heart diseases and low birth weight.”

Hillary Clinton announced funding today to kickstart the effort to reach millions of households with improved stoves.  She said “By upgrading these dirty stoves, millions of lives could be saved and improved. Clean stoves could be as transformative as bed nets or vaccines.”

It is also important to note that high-impact, low-tech solutions like solar cookers have been around for a number of years – without adequate support, as yet, from the development community.  Biochar cookstoves are another, newer approach with tremendous potential.

This initiative is a very useful one, and one that should be ramped up quickly.  In the context of climate change, it can diminish an enormous driver of warming, black carbon.  In the context of public health, it’s a no-brainer.  Not incidentally, the NYT article discusses why we are so late in getting to this problem and its obvious solutions.  (For more on soot and cookstoves, see this material from the NYT.)



Bill Hewitt
Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change