Clean Cooking methods: CoreCarbonX takes steps towards spreading awareness

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Despite five or six decades of development work by the government and private agencies, small and marginal farmers, sharecroppers, agricultural, mining, and industrial laborers, and those living in houses in coastal fishing villages, mohalas, and slums in India’s emerging states, still lack access to even the most basic amenities like clean cooking. With the delivery of its 40,000th improved (energy-efficient) cookstove, CoreCarbonX (CCX) is promoting clean cooking in isolated forest-dependent households in Orissa and Jharkhand.

Most of the families of farmers survive off of monthly incomes of about Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 and make do with what they can afford or get for free, including forest wood for cooking and traditional chullahs (stoves) with inadequate ventilation or inefficient open fires.

As per an estimate, almost half of the population on earth, especially in developing countries, relies on traditional stoves or open fires that burn wood, coal, or other biomass fuels for cooking. Inefficient household solid fuel combustion, or “dirty cooking”, emits carbonaceous aerosols (CA) that contain Black Carbon(BC), a strong solar radiation absorber, and Organic Matter, as well as greenhouse gases like methane (CH4), carbon monoxide (CO), and carbon dioxide (CO2). The ability of black carbon to absorb sunlight and heat its surroundings makes its climate-warming effects 1,500 times stronger per mass than those of CO2.

CoreCarbonX (CCX) promoting clean cooking in isolated forest-dependent households in Orissa and Jharkhand

In South Asia, traditional cooking is responsible for about half of the black carbon in the air, which is a major cause of climate change. According to a recent report in Nature Communication, black carbon increases vertical convection and cloud condensation, depleting water vapor over the Indian subcontinent, the southern Tibetan plateau’s main moisture source. Increasing black carbon concentrations decrease summer precipitation over the southern Tibetan plateau, resulting in an 11.0% glacier mass balance deficit on average from 2007 to 2016; in the Himalayas, this loss is 22.1%.

The ongoing demand for firewood for conventional cooking by economically disadvantaged communities results in deforestation. Deforestation disrupts ecosystems by making temperatures rise and changing the way rain falls. This leads to a drier climate, the extinction of species, and people who depend on forests not being able to keep their standard of living. Additionally, since forests serve as a natural sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, deforestation can exacerbate climate change.

Traditional cooking with poor ventilation and solid fuel combustion pollutes indoor air too. Constant exposure to polluted air can have devastating effects on one’s health, leading to respiratory problems like asthma and lung cancer and reducing one’s quality of life. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of smoke from traditional stoves, as they tend to spend more time indoors and are often responsible for cooking and other household tasks.

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CoreCarbonX (CCX) helping families to switch from open fire or three-stone methods for cooking to Improved Cook Stoves

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), indoor air pollution from cooking with solid fuels (such as wood, charcoal, and animal dung) is responsible for over 4 million premature deaths every year. With 2.4 billion people still without access to clean cooking methods, it is the most undervalued and underfunded tool to protect the environment and livelihood. A serious market failure in the adoption of clean cooking may be linked to inadequate supply networks and affordability, as well as gendered disparities between the advantages seen by decision-makers and those experienced by households.

Improved Cookstoves (ICS) are more efficient than conventional stoves but less efficient and healthier than clean stoves. They are cheaper and operate like traditional stoves, making them easier for economically disadvantaged households to switch. The use of an improved cookstove over inefficient conventional stoves has the potential to reduce Black Carbon emissions by 50-60%. These stoves promise to facilitate more efficient cooking while consuming less time and wood.

CoreCarbonX, an environmental consulting and sustainability advisory firm, is the project originator and implementation partner of such programs to tackle the uncertainties of climate change and ensure a sustainable future for the ecosystem. The organization helped the families in Myanmar shift from open fire or three-stone methods for cooking to Improved Cook Stoves. CoreCarbonX also supported the ICS adoption program among forest-dependent households in the districts of Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

In partnership with Vida Carbon, CoreCarbonX initiated an ambitious project of distributing energy efficient cookstoves to 300,000 homes in Odisha and Jharkhand aiming to reduce emissions by 4.6 million metric tons of CO2 over the course of seven years. The improved cookstove is designed to provide an enclosure for the fire to reduce the loss of radiant heat, protect it against wind and increase heat transfer, thereby increasing efficiency. CoreCarbonX collaborates with exclusive partners to design and manufacture affordable cookstoves that can improve combustion, provide advanced insulation, and have better fuel-burning controls. While it also meant faster cooking, the cookstoves helps save time and fuel, cleaner pans, kitchen walls and lower health expenditure.

The most effective distribution model for such critical programs depends on the specific needs and resources of the target community. By considering the local context and working with a range of partners and individuals, CoreCarbonX has been following a community-based delivery program, in which local communities or individuals are responsible for distributing and promoting the use of clean cooking technologies. This model is particularly effective in reaching hard-to-reach or remote communities in the case of Odisha and Jharkhand. The team is actively working to facilitate the widespread adoption of clean cooking practices in underserved communities by establishing self-help women’s groups to educate and encourage enrollment in the clean cooking program, ensuring the seamless supply of energy-efficient cookstoves from source to household with all necessary due diligence to monitor, and training local community members for maintenance of these cookstoves. Moreover, there is an incentive for those households who use the improved cookstoves continuously for four years.

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“Carbon Saathi” program by CCX to educate women from undeserved families about clean cooking methods

CoreCarbonX has also trained “Carbon Saathi” (Carbon Friend), the majority of whom are women, from each of the local communities that have been identified for the program. These “Carbon Saathi” are tasked with raising clean cooking awareness amongst women, informing them of the drawbacks of using traditional cooking methods, assisting them in making the switch to improved cookstoves, and ensuring that the stoves are properly maintained so that they continue to provide benefits to women.The team is giving the women in these communities the opportunity to become Carbon Saathi, which is allowing them to earn additional living.

There are many benefits that are being delivered using clean cooking technologies. This includes achieving the nine UN Sustainable Development Goals as given below:

1. Improved indoor air quality: Clean cookstoves drastically reduce the amount of smoke and other pollutants that are released into the air, which can help to improve the health of people who use them.

2. Increased fuel efficiency: Clean cookstoves are more efficient than traditional stoves, which means that they can use less fuel to cook the same amount of food. This can be important for people who live in areas where fuel is scarce or expensive.

3. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: Clean cookstoves produce fewer emissions than traditional stoves, which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

4. Improved health: Clean cookstoves help reduce the risk of respiratory problems, such as asthma and lung cancer, which are often associated with the use of traditional stoves. This can have a particularly positive impact on the health of women and girls, who are often responsible for cooking and other household tasks.

5. Reduced deforestation: Clean cookstoves can help reduce the demand for wood and other biomass fuels, which can help protect forests and other natural habitats.

6. Increased economic opportunities: CoreCarbonX clean cookstoves program creates economic opportunities for people who manufacture, sell, and distribute them.

7. Lower manual labour: This program lowers manual labour involved in wood collection, a responsibility that primarily falls on women.

8. Women empowerment and Gender Equality: Women and girls get opportunities to train and educate. They are involved in the manufacturing, distribution, training or sale of clean cookstoves, which can provide a source of income and empowerment.

9. Greater access to education: By reducing the time and energy required for cooking and fuel collection, clean cookstoves can increase the time and energy available for other activities, such as education. This can be particularly important for girls, who may be more likely to be pulled out of school to help with household tasks.

Traditional cooking methods involving solid fuels are estimated to cost the global economy more than $2.4 trillion each year due to the damage they cause to people’s health ($1.4 trillion), the environment ($0.2 trillion), and the productivity of women ($0.8 trillion). The provision of clean cooking facilities to all people around the world is one of the most important targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, which has repercussions for a number of other Sustainable Development Goals, including the promotion of gender equality and the protection of the climate.

Clean cooking is emerging as a crucial nature based solution to combat climate change. Clean stoves help reduce gender inequality in poor homes and improve health and well-being around the world. By decreasing the demand for wood and other forms of biomass fuels, the use of clean cookstoves can contribute to the preservation of forests and other types of natural habitats. The reduction of black carbon emissions is absolutely necessary to slow down the acceleration of global warming and keep the temperature increase well below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as stipulated in the Paris Agreement.

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