IEA’s offer to the European Union to attend the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) – EURACTIV.com

Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), is urging the EU to support Africa’s Clean Cooking Initiative at the upcoming COP28 climate summit in Dubai, telling Euroactiv in an exclusive interview that this is the “number one issue”. “For the continent.

According to the International Energy Agency, four out of five African families currently rely on primitive cooking stoves that use charcoal or firewood to prepare their meals, leaving 70% of the population without clean cooking fuel.

“Today in Africa, when it comes to energy and climate, the number one issue is clean cooking,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, in an exclusive interview with Euractiv.

According to the International Energy Agency, harmful smoke from cooking stoves contributes to 3.7 million premature deaths annually, primarily affecting women and children.

“They are dying,” Birol said. “It’s a gender issue and a health issue,” he added, but it’s also a big energy and climate issue.

However, he believes the problem can be solved in one fell swoop by helping families on the continent switch to clean cooking solutions.

“Solving this problem once and for all will cost 4 billion euros,” Birol said. “Today, total European official development assistance to Africa amounts to 25 billion euros,” he added, indicating that the figure is realistic for external development aid budgets.

“This is the proposal that I will share in the next few weeks with European Commission officials in Brussels and other European leaders,” Birol told this website, adding that the proposal came during discussions with several African leaders, including those of Kenya. Senegal and the African Union.

According to the International Energy Agency, universal access to clean cooking could prevent the emission of 1.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, which is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions of all aircraft and ships. Africa will account for nearly two-thirds of these emissions reductions – about 900 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Furthermore, primitive cooking methods that rely on wood or charcoal contribute to deforestation, resulting in the loss of forests the size of Ireland every year, the IEA says.

This “causes deforestation and undermines Africa’s forest basins and their ability to absorb carbon dioxide,” Birol explained, saying this contributes to the worsening climate crisis.

“If the EU helps Africa solve this problem, it will build trust between Europe and Africa because Africa will never forget it. The image of Europe in Africa will change,” Birol told Euroactive.

Sani Ayuba of Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement, a grassroots organization working with the global charity Oxfam in Niger, welcomed the IEA’s proposal to the EU.

“Developing or supporting clean cooking initiatives in Africa will not only contribute to reducing the inequality experienced by women, but will also improve their health, enhance their independence, as well as reduce their footprint on wood energy resources,” Lioractiv said via email. comments.

According to Ayuba, promoting clean cooking in Africa could greatly impact the continent because the issue affects the daily lives of women, who represent most of the population there.

Women and children in those areas spend up to 20 hours a week collecting firewood to prepare meals for their families, according to the Clean Cooking Alliance, a US-based non-profit.

“It is also an opportunity to strengthen resilience to the climate crisis in Africa,” Ayuba added, noting that the energy sector remains critical to addressing climate change around the world.

The International Energy Agency estimates that nearly one in three people who will access clean cooking in Africa by 2030 will do so via liquefied petroleum gases, and one in eight thanks to electricity.

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