The Three-Dollar Stoves

In the coming days in Washington D.C. researchers are likely to discuss the prospects of funding over half-a-billion three-dollar stoves, across the globe. The plan entails installation of clean stoves, which will help reduce the harmful carbon emissions that not only pollute the environment but also cause several respiratory diseases.

According to a recent news report by the Inter Press Service, almost three billion households across the world cook food on stoves using wood, dung, coal, straw, husks or charcoal. As a result, an estimated 1.6 million die annually including a million children under the age of five, mostly victims of childhood pneumonia.

India is a case in point, where eighty percent of the rural population burns biomass to cook. This leads to 400,000 people falling prey to indoor air pollution almost every year. The numbers mainly include women and children.

Will just half a billion stoves solve the problem? How will these be distributed across the developing and the underdeveloped countries? How sustainable is this model? What exactly do they mean by “clean stoves”? Will the model developed in the West be adaptable to the local practices of these nations. Also, if these stoves are going to be mass-produced will the safety regulations be compromised upon? How many tons of green house gases will be reduced? How will that be monitored?

I seek answers to all these questions not as a skeptic, but as someone who wonders what the impetus behind the 1.6 billion mark is? As we try to tackle global climate-change, issues like poverty in the underdeveloped and the developing countries need to be carefully considered. If only some countries benefit from the policies and measures that are being drafted or implemented, development will be lop-sided and the overall purpose of a global climate coalition stands defeated.

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