Sustainable Development Goal 7

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

The International Energy Agency is at the forefront of global efforts to assess and analyse persistent energy access deficit, providing annual country-by-country data on access to electricity and clean cooking (SDG 7.1) and the main data source for tracking official progress towards SDG targets on renewables (SDG 7.2) and energy efficiency (SDG 7.3).

Access to clean cooking

Updated data this year show that the number of people without clean cooking facilities has been declining gradually. Over 450 million people have gained access to clean cooking since 2010 in India and China, as a result of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) programmes and clean air policies. The challenge in sub-Saharan Africa remains acute, with a deteriorating picture: only 17% of the population have clean cooking access. In total, more than 2.6 billion people worldwide still do not have access, and household air pollution, mostly from cooking smoke, is linked to around 2.5 million premature deaths annually.

Above 2.6 billion people lack access to clean cooking facilities, relying instead on solid biomass, kerosene or coal as their primary cooking fuel. In the past, progress has been very limited compared electricity access. However, latest data show a gradual decline worldwide in the number of people without clean cooking access.

Developing Asia is home to around 65% of the global population without access, with 1.7 billion people lacking clean cooking facilities. Seven-times more people lack clean cooking access than electricity in this region. However, the latest data shows promising signs, with over 600 million people gaining access since 2010. In India and China, access rates have reached 49% and 71% respectively in 2018.

In India, national data show a reduction of 10 percentage points in the share of population relying on biomass and kerosene between 2010 and 2015, with most now using LPG instead. Since 2015, government figures indicate that an additional 80 million free LPG connections have been provided to poor households via the high-profile PMUY scheme. In China, natural gas infrastructure development is helping to reduce the use of biomass and kerosene. Several other countries in developing Asia are also making efforts to promote clean cooking, employing different methods depending on the national context.

As our latest analyses in the Africa Energy Outlook 2019 show, the lack of access to clean cooking remains very acute in sub-Saharan Africa with access increasing only slightly from 15% in 2015 to 17% in 2018. Since 2015, only 25 million people have gained access to clean cooking in the region, meaning that the number of people without access increased to over 900 million in 2018 as population growth outpaced provision efforts. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where the number of those without access continues to rise significantly, highlighting the urgent need for action.

The vast majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa thus rely on gathering biomass for cooking, in particular in rural areas, which dramatically damages health and impairs productivity improvements. Almost 490 000 premature deaths per year are related to household air pollution from the lack of access to clean cooking facilities, with women and children the worst affected. Forest degradation, sometimes leading to deforestation, is another serious consequence of the unsustainable harvesting of fuelwood.

Progress has been registered in a handful of countries though: West Africa has made the fastest progress since 2010, with almost 3 million people gaining access each year, followed by East Africa with nearly 1.5 million people per year. After an important support from the government, in Ghana 24% of the population relied on LPG in 2018; the government further intends to distribute LPG cookstoves within all districts by 2020 through the LPG Promotion Programme launched in 2017. In Côte d’Ivoire, LPG is now used by almost 55% of urban households; however, nearly 95% of rural households still rely on gathered fuelwood burnt in inefficient traditional stoves. In Ethiopia, gains in electricity access are beginning to make an impact, with 32% of urban households cooking with electricity in 2018 compared with only 6% in 2011. In South Africa, electricity is the main clean cooking fuel, used by more than 80% of households nationally.

Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean cooking facilities, 2018


Outlook for clean cooking

In the scenario taking into account today’s current and announced policies (what we call the Stated Policies Scenario), the number of people without access to clean cooking facilities decreases to 2.3 billion in 2030 and 1.8 billion in 2040, falling far from the 2030 universal access target aimed by SDG 7.1. In 2040, population without access is almost equally shared between Africa and Developing Asia. In India, the access rate is 76% by 2040, which means around 380 million remain without access.

In sub-Saharan Africa, some progress is made in the Stated Policies Scenario in reducing reliance on the inefficient use of solid biomass for cooking. But the number of people gaining access to clean cooking barely exceeds population growth as switching from the traditional use of biomass to cleaner options faces both economic and non-economic barriers. The switch to clean cooking turns a corner around 2030 though, so that by 2040, 870 million people do not have clean cooking access. As a result, the number of premature deaths linked to indoor air pollution continues to increase to 500 000 by 2030. Nonetheless, countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire manage to bend the curve and decrease their population without access, providing clean cooking solutions to around half of their population in 2030 thanks to engaged policies.

In the Sustainable Development Scenario, we consider that universal access to clean cooking facilities is achieved by 2030, alongside access to electricity. Similarly as for electricity access, given expected strong population growth over that period, achieving universal access means a cumulative total of around 2.5 billion people gaining access to cleaner cooking facilities for the first time over the period. The means of achieving clean cooking depends on cultural and economic factors, as well as on resources available locally and infrastructure. LPG delivers access to clean cooking in about half of all cases – particularly in urban areas as population density justifies investment in the necessary LPG infrastructure – with improved and more energy-efficient biomass cookstoves playing a more significant role in rural communities. Electrification, biogas, ethanol and other solutions also play important roles, with their uptake depending on local contexts. The resulting increase in LPG demand leads to a small increase in CO2 emissions, but the overall GHG effect is more than offset by reduced methane emissions from incomplete combustion of biomass as those using LPG turn away in many cases from burning wood and other biofuels.

Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels for cooking, 2000-2030

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