IEA’s New World Energy Outlook 2023 Calls for Increased Investment in Clean Cooking
Climate benefits make clean cooking “a prime candidate for climate finance”
The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2023 offers a comprehensive analysis of the global energy landscape, with a significant focus on clean cooking.
Released on the heels of IEA’s Executive Director Fatih Birol calling clean cooking Africa’s No. 1 climate and energy issue, the report highlights areas of progress and challenges for the sector, while calling for much-needed investment to dramatically accelerate clean cooking access.
Increased Investment, Increased Impact
With an annual investment of approximately US $8 billion from today until 2030—less than one fourth of one percent of current global energy investment—the world could achieve universal access to clean cooking, according to the report. The increased investment would deliver a wide range of benefits.
For example, the report shows that premature deaths due to indoor air pollution could drop by over 70%. In addition, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions linked to cooking could be halved, given the reduced dependency on heavily polluting fuels such as biomass and kerosene. This makes clean cooking an excellent choice for climate finance. The transition would also benefit women, reducing the time they spend collecting firewood by nearly 75%.
Global Progress and Remaining Challenges
The report finds that significant progress has been made toward universal clean cooking access. The number of people without access to clean cooking has continued to decrease since 2010, and today sits at almost 2.3 billion people worldwide. This is a decrease of 650 million people. According to the IEA’s Stated Policies Scenario, this number is expected to continue to fall by just over 15% by 2030.
However, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the energy crisis of 2022 continue to linger. In sub-Saharan Africa, despite efforts by countries such as Kenya and Nigeria, the population without access to clean cooking has continued to rise. The report finds that nearly 70% of Africans still lack access to clean cooking. Related, despite recent improvements in the region, access to electricity has not kept pace with population growth: in fact, the number of people without access has risen 2.5% since 2010. This trend will play a role in the pathway to 2030, with 12% of homes expected to rely on electric cooking.
The report showcases India as a success story for clean cooking access. In less than a decade, India has helped over 450 million people transition to clean cooking, largely attributed to policies promoting cooking gas like liquified petroleum gas (LPG). However, challenges persist, especially in rural areas, where infrastructure constraints related to LPG import, storage, and transport remain prevalent. As a result, improved biomass cookstoves could serve as an interim solution before the country is able to make a complete shift to modern cooking fuels, according to the report.
Pathway to 2030
To achieve universal access, the report urgently calls for amplifying the adoption of all clean cooking technologies. LPG is anticipated to be at the forefront, catering to 40% of those transitioning to clean cooking. Electric cooking also has an important role, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is projected to cover 12% of homes—and has the added benefit of not requiring fuel imports.
Additionally, the report shows that, between now and 2030, improved biomass cookstoves will provide clean cooking to more than one-third of those gaining access, largely in rural areas. For many, however, this will be a transitional step before they gain access to LPG, electricity, biodigesters, or ethanol.
Finally, the report makes clear: by switching to any clean cooking solution, African countries will reduce GHG emissions, even after accounting for the increased CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption—making clean cooking a leading option for climate finance.
Read the full report here.