New Delhi (December 6, 2016): Around 150 stakeholders of clean cooking energy including field practitioners, policymakers and thought leaders convened in New Delhi at the 4th India Clean Cooking Forum to emphasize on the national developmental imperative for achieving universal access and adoption of clean cooking technology for every Indian.
Over the last four editions, the Forum has successfully mainstreamed what Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council on Energy, Environment and Water, referred to as the 'stepchild' treatment meted out to clean cooking access within the national as well as global discourse on energy access. Speaking at the inaugural plenary, he also said, "There is need to adopt a complementary approach to increasing clean cooking access including developing conducive policies as well as encouraging technological and business innovations on the ground."
Sharing the stage with Dr Ghosh on the inaugural plenary was Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI and Member, India Council, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. He also said, "Apart from its adverse impacts on health, the very fact that we face biomass resource scarcity should be an incentive to think of alternatives to biomass usage. We need to critically look at the achievements of the biomass or biogas sector in the current context and examine whether growth in those sectors have reached a plateau or whether they still retain the potential for growth."
Anil Jain, Adviser, Energy, Climate and Overseas Investments at NITI Aayog, added, "The problem of encouraging intermediate solutions is simple enough on the face of it but also something that remains less acknowledged than it should be. It is clear that the government needs to promote multifuel stacking and a range of options to empower the consumer."
Ashutosh Jindal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas remarked, "The success of the 'Give It Up' campaign has facilitated newer LPG connections under the Ujjwala Yojana. We remain open to suggestions from the sector practitioners on ways of improving long term adoption of clean cooking technologies on the ground and policies to ensure consumer benefits from clean cooking energy in a technology agnostic way."
The observations of these thought leaders were very encouraging for practitioners and the organizers of the Forum including Clean Energy Access Network(CLEAN), a network for decentralized energy access practitioners, GIZ, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves(GACC), Tata Trusts and World Bank.
Svati Bhogle, Chairperson, CLEAN said, "This forum has thrown up the need to look at the issue of clean cooking energy access from the perspective of both the end user and the entrepreneur. While there is a great need to phase out the traditional mudstove as well as learn from the experiences of LPG distributors, we cannot underestimate the need for intermediate solutions that can cater to the market in ways that are affordable and accessible."
Arijit Basu, Regional Director, GACC said, "The Alliance will continue to participate in strengthening the market for clean cookstoves and fuels in India. We will engage with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Health and Family Welfare and New and Renewable Energy as well as support mass behaviour change campaigns and capacity building programs for clean cooking enterprises.”
Dr Chandrashekhar Sinha, Lead Climate Change Specialist, World Bank said, "There is increasing attention on the issue of clean cooking around the world from health and climate change perspective. We do not have the solid biomass technology yet to obviate the negative impact of biomass fuels but the developments in the larger field of renewable energy over the last few years have been very promising. Achieving clean cooking goals requires support for technolgy development, awareness creation and enhancing affordability. India can therefore benefit from the Green Climate Fund and other sources of global financing which are available for clean cooking."
Ganesh Neelam, Head of Innovation Portfolio, Tata Trusts remarked, "Given the strong connection between reduction of poverty and access to sustainable energy, Tata Trusts support and implement energy projects that are replicable and scalable. Tata Trusts' Clean Cooking Initiative is working to create an ecosystem that ensures availability of social impact products such as clean cooking devices to rural and tribal communities. We do this through innovative technological business and financial solutions with the involvement of local community institutions."
Dr Harald Richter, Programme Head, IGEN ACCESS remarked, "When looking back at the first forum which centred largely around technology and improved cookstoves one can observe that the debate – and the forum itself – has undergone an evolution. The focus is now on clean cooking energy instead of clean cookstoves signaling that the discussion has become more technology agnostic and centers more on universal issues such as indoor air pollution, gender, climate change and health. This is also the case for GIZ's program and objective in India."