- 8th July 2021
2021 is a potentially momentous year where governments, private sector, civil society and others will take stock on the progress and future actions on achieving universal energy access for all (SDG 7) and reducing global greenhouse gas emissions as set out in the Paris Agreement. September will see the culmination of the High-level Dialogue on Energy, and November will see COP26 –a key moment in a decades long process.
Our engagement with these processes involved presenting research evidence and promoting the aspiration including cooking energy in modern energy access interventions. A UN ministerial-level thematic forum side event was held on 23 June to promote this inclusion of cooking energy in modern energy access. The event, titled Leveraging modern energy access for all: infrastructure, climate and cooking, was hosted by the Kenyan government, and supported by the Africa Europe Foundation (AEF), Clean Cooking Alliance, ENERGIA and The Energy Nexus Network. It was hosted by Paul Mbuthi, (Deputy Director, Kenya Ministry of Energy) and introduced by the scientific adviser to FCDO (Charlotte Watts).
The meeting brought together experts to discuss the connection between infrastructure, climate and cooking. They called on countries to undertake integrated energy planning which offer people access to modern energy and cooking in a single plan. The discussion also noted that these actions should be in line with the ambitions for a net-zero carbon future by 2050.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Sheila Oparaocha (ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy) and Kandeh Yumkella (Co-chair of the AEF Strategy Group on Energy, and former UN Under-Secretary-General and the first Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All) announced a rallying call to ensure that existing and future modern energy access interventions are inclusive of its use for cooking (SDG7.2) and take into account low carbon solutions. This new rallying call is aimed at mobilizing political will and ensuring commitments are backed by finance to accelerate access to modern energy cooking services.
40,60 by 2030
The 40,60 by 2030 challenge builds on work undertaken over the last two to three years by MECS, ESMAP, CCA and others to showcase that electric cooking is becoming more affordable and available in Low and Middle Income Countries. Since so much electricity generation is pivoting to renewable energy, it offers a long-term solution from a low carbon source. Countries in Africa and Asia are making significant gains in their electrical infrastructure such that some have now reached surplus electricity generating capacity with improved distribution infrastructure. Cooking with electricity is no longer a dream but a solution that is scalable.
The 40,60 by 2030 call works alongside other 2021 calls to action such as the ‘strategic roadmap to promote healthier populations through clean and sustainable energy’ from the Health and Energy Platform for Action, the ‘Call to action: principles for priority action on clean cooking for all’ which builds on efforts by the Coalition of Global Champions on Energy Access (UN Secretariat) with Governments of The Netherlands, Malawi and Kenya, the ‘Energy Compact: Unlock the SDGs and Net-Zero with Clean Cooking‘ (CCA) which includes a complimentary target aimed at building synergies between clean cooking and electrification, and the ‘Clean Cooking Manifesto’ (AEF), each of which seeks to bring greater political commitment and financial resources to the enduring problem of clean cooking. Working alongside these broader calls for action, the 40,60 by 2030 call focuses on a key possibility for stakeholders to integrate the need for modern energy cooking into the planning for modern energy access (40) and to do this with the Paris agreement in mind (60).
The 40,60 by 2030 challenge therefore has two major components, which are an intermediate step in the just energy transition towards a net-zero carbon world by 2050. It calls for 40% of all households connected to grid or off-grid electricity to be using it for cooking by 2030, and 60% of households using modern energy for cooking to be generated from low-carbon sources by 2030.
Component 1: We call for a target of 40% of all households connected to grid or off-grid electricity in Low and Middle Income Countries to be using it for cooking by 2030.
While SDG progress reports show that 760 million globally do not have access to electricity, there are over 2 billion who do have an electricity connection and yet continue to cook with polluting fuels. In developing Asia, over 96% of households have electricity connections, but less than 30% cook with modern energy. In Sub Saharan Africa, less than 50% of households have some access to electricity and yet less than 10% have access to modern energy cooking.
Component 2: We call for a target of 60% of households utilising modern energy for cooking to be utilising energy generated from low carbon sources by 2030.
Cooking with polluting fuels accounts for 2% of total carbon emissions but a much higher proportion of black carbon emissions, the second largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. As modern energy systems pivot towards renewable energy technologies, the access to clean cooking should match an improved access to low carbon modern energy.
As Kandeh Yumkella stated, cooking with polluting fuels is a “silent tsunami” which kills over 4 million people yearly. Bringing together plans for infrastructure, climate and cooking would address this urgent health issue. Action that brings into view the negative climate impacts of cooking with polluting fuels would also possibly unlock climate finance to expand modern energy access and clean cooking solutions. To that end, MECS is currently piloting the use of metered carbon monitoring for energy-efficient cooking appliances, in collaboration with ClimateCare.
How can this be done?
These aspirational targets require integrated planning, leveraging the gains in modern energy access to be inclusive of cooking needs and demand. Research on energy efficient appliances for cooking has shown how even on weak grids, high power loads and reliability concerns can be mitigated. Recent research shows that cooking with energy efficient appliances can be cost effective for a significant proportion of the population.
During the event, Paul Mbuthi of the Ministry of Energy of Kenya outlined how the country is exploring the development of an integrated national energy planning framework that offer households the full suite of household energy needs, including clean cooking.
Modern energy for cooking can transform women’s lives by improving their health and reducing the time burden of cooking. This has great potential to open up new opportunities for income generation, education and leisure.
There are many positive developments happening around modern energy and clean cooking, as evidenced by the interventions of the panellists during this side event, including GIZ/EnDev, IEA, AEPC, AfDB and IADB. However, the discussions made it clear that much more needs to be done if we are to achieve access to electricity for all by 2030. Even more is required to reach a sizeable proportion of the population with clean fuels and technology for cooking. We believe that leveraging the gains in electricity infrastructure, capitalizing on new technologies, innovative financing and regulation would contribute significantly to leaving no one behind, while providing access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy cooking solutions for all.
The 40,60 by 2030 challenge is a call to action for the international community to mobilize political will and ensure commitments are backed by finance to accelerate modern energy for cooking to meet the aspirations of all those currently without access.