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Clinton Marks Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Anniversary

By MacKenzie C. Babb | Staff Writer | 27 September 2011
Hillary Rodham Clinton at podium (AP Images)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton celebrates the clean cookstoves initiative's anniversary at an event on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is celebrating the first anniversary of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership that addresses the major health and environmental problems caused by cooking over open fires and with dirty stoves.

“On its one-year anniversary, the United States has made additional financial commitments to the alliance of up to $55 million, bringing the total United States commitment up to $105 million in the first five years,” a September 22 State Department news release said. The department called the initiative “an important U.S. diplomatic and development priority” and said the United States is working with international partners to create a thriving global market for clean and efficient household solutions to unsafe traditional stoves.

Clinton said smoke and soot from stoves and open fires kill at least 2 million people each year, more than malaria and tuberculosis combined. She said the problem mainly affects women and children, as they spend more time at home.

Addressing this issue is part of Clinton’s efforts to empower women worldwide. The secretary spoke September 22 at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York.

Traditional cookstoves also have severe ramifications for the environment, with emissions from stoves in China and India alone accounting for an estimated one-third of the world’s black carbon emissions. Scientists believe these emissions play a significant role in climate change, as black carbon stays in the atmosphere for a relatively short time before falling to the ground. Because of its dark color, it absorbs heat both in the atmosphere and on the ground, resulting in higher temperatures and ice melt.

Companies are now selling stoves in developing countries that use cleaner-burning biomass fuels, built-in fans and solar or wind energy for power. But while prices for clean stoves have dropped in recent years, they are not low enough to create a mass market.

To make sure the new stoves reach homes in targeted markets, the alliance is working to reduce trade barriers, improve consumer awareness and boost access to carbon financing to reduce stove costs.

The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have led the Obama administration’s whole-of-government approach to the initiative, which has also included efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other key agencies. The State Department says every U.S. federal agency has met or exceeded the initiative’s first-year goals, which range from diplomacy and capacity building to stove testing, applied research and field implementation and evaluation.

The alliance, led by the United Nations Foundation, is working toward a goal of getting 100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)