Energy Needs of the World’s Poor
To the Editor:
I want to thank Bjorn Lomborg for shining a light on the dark plight of the world’s energy poor, the estimated three billion people who burn solid fuels in open fires and in basic cookstoves for their daily cooking needs. His equivocation, however, between recognizing the global cooking crisis and questioning the timing of effective interventions is troubling. Indeed, the time is right and the time is now to ensure that cooking does not kill.
The group I lead is a public-private partnership of almost 900 partners worldwide, engaged in policy reform, research, standards-setting, support for entrepreneurs, awareness raising and more in order to create a thriving global market for clean cookstoves and fuels that will save and improve lives and better protect the environment.
A major commitment of the global clean cooking sector is moving the energy poor up the energy ladder, from wood, coal and charcoal to cleaner fuels that do include fossil fuels but that also include agriwaste pellets, solar energy, ethanol and electricity when possible.
This will take time, and it is imperative to understand the preferences and aspirations of consumers to ensure sustainable adoption of both the cookstove and the fuel source. But fossil fuels are not the only solution available now to begin transforming the way in which half the world cooks. The stakes are too high to rest on that assumption.
Executive Director, Global
Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
Washington, Dec. 4, 2013
The New York Times: A version of this letter appears in print on December 13, 2013, on page A38 of the New York edition with the headline: Energy Needs of the World’s Poor.