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Nations, Firms Pledge $2.2 Billion to Africa Clean Cooking

(Bloomberg) — Governments, multilateral lenders and oil and gas companies at a key Paris conference pledged $2.2 billion in financing to promote clean cooking in Africa and end a scourge that causes fatal respiratory disease, adds to carbon emissions and leads to deforestation.

Across Africa, more than 900 million people — or about three-quarters of the population — rely on open fires and basic stoves that burn charcoal and wood to cook meals. That practice leads to the premature death of about 600,000 people, mainly women and children, a year.

“This summit has delivered an emphatic commitment to an issue that has been ignored by too many people, for too long,” International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement released at the conference convened by the IEA on Tuesday. 

Pledges came from the African Development Bank, the European Union and Vitol SA among others.

The IEA estimates that Africa needs $4 billion in annual investments to end the use of inefficient wood and charcoal fires and stoves by 2030, with Birol suggesting in an earlier interview that the sale of carbon credits could go some way to meeting that goal. 

Achieving the target would cut annual emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide or its equivalent by 800 million tons annually, more than the amount emitted by South Africa, the world’s 15th-biggest source of greenhouse gases.

“Speed and scale is what is needed to resolve the charcoal epidemic in Africa,” said Greg Murray, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Koko Networks, which sells stoves that use renewable ethanol in Kenya and Rwanda.

While there has been some improvement in the use of clean-cooking technology in Asian countries, progress in Africa has lagged behind. The World Bank estimates the cost of inaction in sub-Saharan Africa at $330 billion annually because of the impact on health and the climate.

Separately, the World Liquid Gas Association said Equinor ASA and TotalEnergies SE will be part of a task force that will promote access to liquefied petroleum gas for cooking in Africa and will present a plan to the COP29 international climate summit later this year.

Petredec Ltd., Oryx Energies SA and S&P Global Inc. will also form part of the task force.

(Updates with target in fourth paragraph, comment from fifth)

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR