As the countdown for 2030 has already started, it is more urgent than ever to mobilize the necessary funding, partnerships, and policies to achieve clean cooking for all and accelerate progress toward global climate and development goals for a country like Nepal.
Despite announcing programs by all three tiers of government to accelerate clean cooking, the federal government in Nepal is desperately looking the options to visualize clean cooking as a reality to reduce its dependence on imported LPG and dirty biomass fuels to save the life of thousands of rural women.
Participated by a high-level delegation led by a member of the National Planning Commission Prof. Dr. Surendra Labh Karna consisting of a government official, the private sector and NGOs, the recently concluded Clean Cooking Forum 2022 came as a boon to Nepal. The forum convened global leaders to pave the way for much-needed action to materialize clean cooking by 2030.
The participants were diverse and wide. Policymakers, entrepreneurs, investors, donors, and other key partners joined together to help bring clean cooking to the billions who live without it. For the Nepalese delegation, it was an opportunity to learn.
“It was really a big opportunity for a country like Nepal. The Nepalese delegation learned a lot in building up the contract to promote electric cooking in Nepal. One of the main learning from the conference is the idea of linking carbon trade and clean cooking. This will pave the way to generate the resources need to provide subsidies to the poor and vulnerable population,” said Mohan Das Manandhar, Executive Director of Niti Foundation, a policy-related NGO, who participated in the conference as a member of the Nepali delegation. “Undoubtedly, Nepal is ahead in clean cooking. It is very interesting to note that Nepal has the largest number of biogas plants on the entire African continent. In Africa, they are yet to reach 100,000. However, Nepal already has over 600,000 plants.
With the recent energy crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Nepal is now in the energy transition shifting its overwhelming reliance from fossil fuels to clean energy. After the policy announcement from the federal government, the provincial and local level government has already announced the policy and budget to minimize the use of LPG promoting the electricity, boo-gas.
Manandhar said that along with electric cooking, bio-gas is also very popular in the world for clean cooking. Emerging new technology has made bio-gas more viable to replace traditional energy systems.
“Although we are yet to use the new technology, Nepal is far ahead in the use of biogas in cooking. Despite making efforts, electric cooking is still early stages all over the world. However, Nepal is quite in a good position. Certain countries are pushing electric cooking to replace LPG and traditional fuel. With surplus electricity, Nepal also can follow the such idea. For this, there is also a need for quality stoves and technology. This was what we learned during the conference. With the availability of resources through carbon trade, electric cooking or clean cooking has a lot of advantages to replace LPG and dirty traditional cooking energy.”
Over 700 in-person attendees from over 60 countries to the global Clean Cooking Forum, The Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) and the Government of Ghana had made every effort to make it valuable.
According to the organizer, the landmark event, also watched by 2,500+ virtual attendees, showcased the need – as well as the path forward – for mobilizing the necessary investment, innovations, partnerships, and policies to achieve clean cooking for all and accelerate progress toward global climate and development goals.
Given the current trend, it will be impossible to meet global climate goals, achieve a just clean energy transition, protects the environment, achieve gender equality and provide a future for the next generation, without changing the way people cook.
For the Nepali delegation, the forum was highly valuable in terms of the policy change and learning implementation framework. “The Clean Cooking Forum was an opportunity to showcase the issue of clean cooking and inspire stakeholders around the world, to take more action towards a just and inclusive clean energy transition,” said Professor Dr. Karna member of NPC.
“Along with discussions and presentation, the seminar also included an Innovation Expo, showcasing 40 organizations highlighting the latest developments in clean cooking technologies and business models, including many from Ghana; More than 150 business-to-business networking meetings.” Discussions on financing and investment, technology and business innovation, climate funding and results-based financing, national policy-making for market growth, youth, and women’s empowerment were highly valuable as well.
At a time when Nepal is facing a serious crisis of balance of payment due to imports of LPG, Clean cooking is a significant opportunity for the advanced economies to show their willingness to support the developing world in the direction of a clean and secure energy transition. Experts argue that today's energy crisis can and should be a turning point in the global effort to meet this basic energy need for each and every person.”\
As clean cooking is directly related to making better health of women with over 25000 Nepalese women die annually and large numbers of women and children are suffering from air pollution-related diseases, the discussion held in the forum helps Nepal as well.
"In the commitments and announcements made at the Clean Cooking Forum, it’s clear you agree that the time is now," said Dymphna van der Lans, CEO of the Clean Cooking Alliance. "Let’s continue this energy, continue this push toward collaborative, systemic approaches that mobilize commitment and finance, and accelerate progress at the pace and scale the challenge requires."
“Game-changing innovations can dramatically contribute to scaling the sector and bring us closer to universal access to clean cooking solutions. These talks featured innovators who discussed how their products, services, or approaches have the potential to address key challenges in the sector.
For a country like Nepal, biomass remains the mainstay of cooking for households and an institution in rural settings where consumers have few viable alternatives and much of the biomass cooking that occurs in rural Nepal is neither clean nor efficient.
“The workshop also discussed the crucial place of biomass tools and fuel in the clean cooking sector and the evolving business models that are driving the adoption of clean biomass solutions. Speakers from some of the leading organizations in the segment unpacked key issues such as: why the segment has historically not attracted large investment, the role of innovation in driving scale and impact, what is missing to reach scalable biomass fuel distribution models, and the opportunities and challenges of carbon finance in the ecosystem,” said Karuna Bajracharya,” said Karuna Bajracharya, Country Manager of Clean Cooking Alliance for Nepal.
“One of the important parts of the forum was that changing the way people cook was also acknowledged in the forum. This session discussed the complexity of the global food crisis, explore the interconnections between clean cooking and efforts toward a sustainable food system, and share lessons from holistic regenerative agriculture approaches and institutional cooking efforts.
Experts pointed out thriving market systems are needed to achieve universal access to clean cooking and national governments have an indispensable role to play in supporting innovation, attracting private investment, and mobilizing the international resources required to ensure energy transitions are just and equitable for both people and the planet.
In Nepal, the federal government is facing many challenges that prevent them from implementing ambitious and sustainable clean cooking transitions. As a result, clean cooking mandates are not elevated, monitored, and optimized as effectively.
In the session on the role of governments, many interesting points were raised.
“This session highlighted the catalytic potential of strong government leadership in delivering robust clean cooking ambitions. To avoid crisis, national governments require the support of the ecosystem to help set and deliver ambitious, locally-owned agendas. The Clean Cooking Delivery Units Network seeks to do just this by investing in local leaders, elevating their capacity, providing tailored funding and technical support, and facilitating connections to resources and peers.
Scaling Modern Power Infrastructure
Electric cooking is an essential part of the solution to deliver modern power infrastructure and access to energy. To maximize this potential, clean cooking needs to be integrated into national energy planning; bringing together stakeholders to ensure aligned policies and tariffs, appropriate household energy infrastructure and accessible products.
“Using inspiring global examples, speakers highlighted the opportunities to scale electrification and electric cooking. They covered the policies they have established, the tools they have used to model supply- and demand-side electric cooking scenarios and the steps they have taken to reach stakeholders and promote a supportive enabling environment for electric cooking.
Art and Science of Clean Cooking Policy Innovation
The implementation of ambitious, locally owned clean cooking agendas will ultimately require the development of effective policies and strategies that put these ambitions into action by supporting and incentivizing clean cooking innovation and investment.
To be successful, national governments must incorporate high-quality data and technical expertise, ensure that policy and strategy development processes are inclusive of both public and private sector stakeholders and have buy-in at national and sub-national levels. While each country's context is unique, there is much that can be learned from the successful development of innovative policies and strategies across contexts.
Growing People, Growing Businesses
Achieving universal access to clean cooking requires enabling policies, increased financing, and innovative business models. But there is another necessary factor that is often overlooked: whether we have the skilled workforce to deliver. Despite the growing demand for clean cooking appliances and fuels, there is a shortage of talent to design, manufacture, distribute, and maintain the solutions as well as drive innovations on policy and financing. Scaling the clean cooking sector is a massive economic opportunity, with the potential to create millions of decent jobs across its diverse value chains, including in remote communities that need economic activity the most, and for women and youth who are most affected by the lack of clean cooking access.
House Hold Air Pollution
Emerging Evidence on the Health Impacts of Household Air Pollution suggests that household Air Pollution is even more harmful than people thought.
The relationship between household air pollution and illnesses like pneumonia and heart disease has been well documented. But emerging evidence suggests that the health impacts of household air pollution reach even further, contributing to negative birth outcomes, poor cognition, mental health disorders, and exacerbating COVID-19. New estimates from the World Health Organization show that exposure to household air pollution was responsible for 3.2 million deaths in 2019 globally over 23000 at the national level in Nepal.
Cities Can Lead the Way in Clean Cooking
More than half the world’s population lives in cities. Urban areas are engines of economic growth and innovation — but also huge carbon emitters, contributors of pollution and consumers of resources. The way in which cities are designed and governed impacts the quality of life for billions of people. In growing cities around the world, three-quarters of the infrastructure that will exist by 2050 has yet to be built.
Empowering cities to lead clean cooking transitions that best suit the needs of their citizens is essential to improving health, the environment, and the climate. Municipal energy, climate and development plans should integrate cooking needs and create an enabling environment for the clean cooking sector to provide affordable and accessible solutions.
Cities are at a critical inflection point: Decisions made today will determine whether we continue on a path of fractured, unsafe, polluting growth, or succeed in creating a sustainable, resilient, more inclusive future. This session will discuss how national, state and city governments can collaborate to accelerate access to clean cooking and make cities around the world more resilient, inclusive, low-carbon places that are better for people and the planet.
“Nepal has already taken notice that fighting climate change means advancing clean cooking access. Nepal includes household energy or clean cooking-related goals in their NDCs. Announcing provisions for clean cooking through annual programs, the Federal, province and some local governments have started to transform these commitments into action,” said Manandhar.
For Nepali participation, Clean Cooking Forum opens the windows of opportunities to pave the way to accelerate the clean cooking campaign reaching all population by 2050. With the much-needed technical support from CCA and working in collaboration with National Planning Commission, Federal, Province, and Local Governments, the Alternative Energy Promotion Center, NGOs and the private sector, Nepal can make a change.