The use of traditional cookstoves, heatstoves, solid fuels and kerosene lamps by almost three billion people has a serious and negative impact on the global environment, as well as the health of millions.

The Coalition’s Household Energy Initiative works to speed and scale-up the reduction of short-lived climate pollutant emissions from these sectors globally, alongside reductions of long-lived greenhouse gases, in order to mitigate climate change, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment and human health in the near-term and the long-term.  

Residential cooking, domestic heating, and lamps account for more than half of global anthropogenic black carbon emissions and contribute a significant share of ambient air pollution in the developing world. In 2016, approximately 2.6 million people in the developing world died prematurely from exposure to household air pollution. Additionally, each year, tens of millions are sickened, injured or burned as a result of using biomass as fuel.

Collection of fuel wood for cooking and heating contributes to forest degradation, land use changes, and climate change. Women and children spend more time indoors compared to men, and they experience a disproportionate share of the health impacts from the use of kerosene for lighting. Because they spend more time indoors, women and children are also more vulnerable to high exposures of household air pollution and to the risk of kerosene cooking and lighting explosions. In addition to the direct health impacts from the use of traditional cookstoves, heatstoves, and open fires, women and girls who must collect biomass fuel far from the safety of their homes are at high risk of gender violence and physical injury and are negatively impacted by the loss of economic productivity and educational opportunities from time spent gathering biomass for their families.

The scope and severity of impacts from cookstoves, heatstoves, and kerosene lamps on the health and environment of nearly half of the world’s population necessitate an immediate and concerted response from the global research, policy, and donor communities. Wide-scale adoption of clean, low-emission and efficient cookstoves, heatstoves, and fuels and off-grid lighting can mitigate climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions from non-sustainable harvesting of biomass, and by lowering emissions of short-lived climate pollutants such as methane, carbon monoxide, black carbon. Global adoption of clean and low-emission household energy solutions would also reduce air pollution, loss of habitat and biodiversity, and help slow forest degradation.

Our work

While there are several high-profile initiatives to address the use of traditional cookstoves, heatstoves, and open fires, none have a truly integrated “household” approach and specific focus on reducing short-lived climate pollutant emissions from household energy. The Coalition’s work on domestic heating, cooking, and lighting as a significant contributor to global climate change is an important step in reducing pollutant emissions that will help address gaps in the climate mitigation efforts and effectiveness of other international, regional, and national clean and low-emission cooking, heating and lighting initiatives. 

The Coalition has a unique opportunity to raise the visibility of the role that household clean and low-emission energy solutions can play in climate mitigation and air quality improvement efforts. The Coalition mobilizes government and non-governmental partners around concerted action to address the gaps in climate mitigation benefits from more broadly-focused international initiatives.

The Household Energy Initiative aims to play a critical role in: 

  • Strengthening awareness of the sector’s contribution to climate change
  • Spurring advocacy efforts of the various donors in the Coalition who support clean/low-energy cooking, heating, and lighting activities through their bilateral and multilateral aid programs 
  • Promoting clean and efficient cooking and heating solutions that improve health and air quality by reducing black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutant emissions

Activities are implemented globally, but with a focus on developing countries and high northern latitude/mountain countries, where the use of solid fuels for heating is common. A strong preference is given to addressing the clean/low-emission household energy solution needs of Coalition partner countries that will lead to short-lived climate pollutant emissions reductions.

The impacts of short-lived climate pollutant emissions differ by region and therefore efforts to scale up adoption of clean/low-emission cooking, heating, and lighting solutions target regions where the climate benefits will be greatest. Such areas include those where aerosols have a direct effect on precipitation and monsoons, and those with close proximity to snow- and ice-covered regions where the emissions of black carbon have a strong potential warming effect.

The initiative focuses on four key components designed to leverage the ongoing research and market mobilization activities of co-leads and other Coalition partners, specifically:

  • Supporting technologies and fuels that reduce emissions of black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutants through the GACC Spark Fund – a grant facility for business capacity development and growth designed to mirror early stage investment
  • Developing standards and testing protocols to provide criteria for evaluating emission reductions of black carbon, SLCPs, and other co-benefits from the widespread adoption of clean cookstoves, heatstoves, and fuels
  • High-level advocacy to raise awareness among thought leaders and policy-makers regarding the climate change impacts of using solid fuels in traditional cookstoves and open fires
  • Educational “Burn Right” campaigns, in regions that use solid fuel stoves for heating, that emphasize the importance of right burning techniques to reduce particulate and black carbon emissions. Target regions include northern Europe and North America, the Andes region and southern New Zealand and Australia. 


The Initiative engages a broad range of key government representatives, researchers, non-governmental organizations, standard-setting organizations, and other stakeholders to garner input on the Initiative, as well as secure participation in the development and execution of work plans and activities, to ensure:

  • Inclusion of clean household energy solutions in more climate action plans, as well as increased ambition levels in Nationally Determined Contributions that already include household energy solutions: While some countries already include household energy solutions within their NDCs, many countries do not have concrete plans on how to achieve them. The Initiative seeks inclusion in countries’ climate action plans where absent and strives for solutions that offer the greatest reductions.
  • Greater awareness of the role of clean/low-emission household energy solution as a mitigation option for global climate change and local-to-regional air pollution: The Initiative’s activities target greater high-level support for clean/low-emission cookstoves, heatstoves, fuel and off-grid lighting programs and projects, as well as an enhanced understanding of the role clean/low-emission household energy solutions can play in reducing global emissions of heat-trapping gases and pollutants.
  • Increased availability of funding for projects that reduce short-lived climate pollutants: Successful applicants to Coalition funds demonstrate that they can leverage grant funding and attract additional capital to fully scale their enterprises. This is expected to generate a pipeline of innovative projects that can be slated for commercial or impact investment, as well as help to educate impact investors on the potential that exists in the sector for reducing emissions. It is also expected to provide project developers with financial incentives to include measurable and additive reductions of short-lived climate pollutants in their activities, even if such activities fail to provide direct and immediate economic benefits. 
  • Expansion of climate finance models to include short-lived climate pollutants: Including these pollutants in climate finance models is expected to result in more robust measures of emissions performance, along with better methods to evaluate renewability of biomass harvesting. This inclusion will help incentivize household energy technologies with the greatest potential for reducing climate and health impacts. 
  • Increased capability of regional short-lived climate pollutant knowledge and testing centers: Capable and reliable knowledge and testing centers serve to push the development and application of robust standards and expanded testing protocols for short-lived climate pollutants. These centers allow for better understanding of the emission reduction properties of various technologies and fuels. Enhanced knowledge better informs the development of market enabling interventions and policies that will most cost-effectively and quickly reduce emissions short-lived climate pollutants from the household energy sector. 
  • Mechanisms to sustain the scale-up of clean/low-emission cookstoves, heatstoves, and non-fuel-based lighting: Establishing a multi-stakeholder approach to the development of technology and fuel standards will lead to broad buy-in for these standards. The market for clean/low-emission cookstoves, heatstoves and fuels and, off-grid lighting solutions has expanded rapidly in recent years, with predictions for continued, sustained growth. Nonetheless, much of that market remains untapped and can use continued support as it grows. A multi-ministerial and stakeholder approach will ensure buy in by governments.

In this work, the Initiative draws on key stakeholders working to promote the adoption of clean/low-emission cookstoves, heatstoves, and off-grid lighting and related fuels -- including many drawn from the 1700+ partners of the Clean Cooking Alliance’s’ broad global network, the ADB’s Clean Cooking Initiative, World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), Lighting Global and the World Bank’s Africa Clean Cooking Energy Solutions Initiative.


Location of activities

  • Global
  • Africa
    • Ghana
    • Kenya
    • Nigeria
    • Uganda
  • Asia and the Pacific
    • India
    • Mongolia
  • Europe
    • Poland
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
    • Guatemala
    • Uruguay

Description of activities

Activity | Household Energy
India | Closed
An activity carried out by the Coalition's Solution Centre supported an exchange between Nigerian and Indian women to share how they are transitioning to clean household energy. Women from three...
Women from Notarpali village teaching RUWES women how to make improved clay stoves

Achievements to date

Since 2013, our Household Energy Initiative has funded a range of activities to support the scale up of black carbon mitigation in the household energy sector. These activities have focused on improving measurements and standards, providing guidance to countries for national labelling programs and helping innovative pilot programs to scale up results-based financing. Our key achievements include: 

Measurements, standards and labelling 

Demonstrating clean fuels and technologies 


Funding (as of Oct 2020): USD 4.4 million  
Co-funding (as of Oct 2020): USD 6.8 million 
Catalysed funding (as of Oct 2020): USD 13.7 million 

Initiative contacts

Sandra Cavalieri,
Urban Health Initiative Coordinator
Sandra.Cavalieri [at] un.org

Partners & Actors


2020 | Reports, Case Studies & Assessments
, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS)

How we guide progress toward achieving access to modern-energy cooking solutions for all is more critical than ever before. To date, measurements of access have focused primarily on fuel...

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