Replace all dirty cookstoves with culturally appropriate clean cookstoves that reduce or eliminate black carbon emissions and prevent illness and death from air pollution.
Each year, household cooking and heating accounts for over half of the world’s black carbon emissions and an estimated 4 million premature deaths from indoor pollution–related illnesses. Limited access to clean cooking disproportionately affects women and girls, preventing them from participating and benefiting equally in the economy and society. Black carbon has nearly a thousand times the warming impact of carbon dioxide per unit of mass. Even though black carbon only stays in the atmosphere for a few days, when it returns through precipitation, it accelerates the melting of snow and ice and damages plant health and soil. Since the 1950s, governments and development agencies saw clean cookstove projects as providing a genuine solution to the joint challenges of air pollution, gender injustice, and climate change. Despite the immense potential of clean cookstoves in theory, in practice, few improvements in air quality, health indicators, and gender equity have been found. The problem lies not with the idea of clean cookstoves, but rather with their implementation. Although international organizations, foundations, and development agencies have access to capital, they have not been able to effectively understand diverse local requirements related to cooking. Any movement to ensure long-term access to improved clean cookstoves must be driven by local leaders, entrepreneurs, and women who understand the cultural, socioeconomic, and user needs of their communities.