IEI sought to catalyze a global clean cooking fuels initiative (GCCFI) to bring about a worldwide shift to clean fluid fuels for cooking and heating by 2020, with an emphasis on the poorest households gaining access to clean fuels. This initiative is crucial to implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
IEI would develop analysis, strategies, and recommended policies for creating universal access to clean fuels and for guaranteeing universal provision of such fuels to the extent needed to satisfy basic human needs. Drawing on these efforts, IEI would undertake major outreach and advocacy efforts to catalyze action by governments (in developing and industrialized countries), international development assistance agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.
Some 2.6 billion people rely on solid biomass and coal for cooking and heating, with direct and indirect negative consequences, including health damages from indoor air pollution; reduced time for social, educational or economic activities for women and children due to time spent gathering biomass fuel; perpetuation of gender inequities and related social problems; environmental damages from cutting of trees; contributions to earth-warming emissions.
Using cleaner liquid or gas fuels would eliminate most or all of these impacts. However, there are major technology, financing, institutional, social, and other obstacles to achieving widespread access to clean fuels. Overcoming the obstacles requires, inter alia, articulating:
- how clean fuels can be competitive with zero or low private cost fuels when externality and sustainable development benefits are included in the calculations;
- a wider set of viable clean fuel options for the near, medium, and long term;
- ways to create market demand for clean fuels (to help motivate private fuels suppliers);
- key-needed infrastructure investments to facilitate distribution of clean fuels;
- creative financing mechanisms to enable even the poorest people to afford clean fuels;
- how to empower women on the issue of cooking/heating fuels;
- links between solid fuels and global warming to motivate support from OECD countries;
- the case to governments, corporations, international organizations, and other sectors of society that clean household fuel is a basic right of all humans;
- new strategic and policy approaches that governments, international agencies, NGOs, and the private sector might adopt to widen access to clean fuels.
IEI proposed to undertake major background studies on key issues, detailed country case studies in five major regions of the world (Africa, Latin America, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and China), and regional analyses building on the country studies. Stakeholder workshops would be integral to the country and regional studies. Country studies would analyze current domestic fuels use and associated social, economic, and environmental impacts; describe past and ongoing efforts to reduce solid fuels use; identify alternative clean fuels and barriers to their wide use; identify key public and private sector entities that are (or could be) involved in increasing access to cleaner fuels; articulate strategies for accelerating the rate at which rural households gain access to clean fuels; and propose policies for achieving this. A key objective of these studies is to define on a country-by-country basis implementation targets, strategies, and requisite policies.
The analysis efforts would provide the basis for major outreach and advocacy efforts. Results would be published widely. Advocacy and awareness-building efforts (presentations, popular-press articles, one-on-one meetings etc) would be undertaken by IEI staff and Board members. And major outreach/advocacy workshops would be organized in each focus region. Key stakeholders from the private sector, NGOs, governments, multilateral agencies, and others would be invited with a goal of developing regional/national action plans for achieving the goals of the GCCFI.
In preparation for the proposed effort IEI dedicated the September 2004 issue of its highly-regarded quarterly journal, Energy for Sustainable Development (ESD), to invited articles from leading world experts on a broad range of relevant issues. The lead article, by José Goldemberg, Thomas Johansson, Amulya Reddy and Robert Williams – four of IEI's Board of Directors – calls for an intensive global effort to phase out the use of solid fuels within 10 to 15 years. This issue of ESD constitutes a unique information resource that supports IEI's proposed activities and informs a wider audience of decision makers.
The proposed IEI effort, guided by input from the Board of Directors and a specially-constituted Project Advisory Board, would be carried out over a 3-year period.