Journal Article - October 2018

The need for policies to reduce the costs of cleaner cooking in low income settings: Implications from systematic analysis of costs and benefits

Marc Jeuland, Jie-Sheng Tan Soo and Drew Shindell
Inefficient household cooking in less-developed countries harms health and productivity, the environment, and the global climate. Interventions to encourage adoption of cleaner and more fuel-efficient stoves are being implemented widely to reduce these burdens, but sustained use has proven elusive. This study develops a data-driven simulation approach to investigate the potential costs and benefits of cleaner stoves, informed by recent empirical studies. The results suggest that the private case for adoption of technologies other than charcoal ICS is often unclear; that is, households’ private benefits do not usually outweigh the costs of these improvements. Overall social benefits, in contrast, are typically positive and large for nearly all such improved technologies. We investigate how economic benefits vary with intensity of use, and find that higher use does not unambiguously translate into greater private benefits. Analyzing the effects of different subsidies, we further find that fuel subsidies for purchased fuels could substantially improve private net benefits, but that even these may be insufficient to make cleaner cooking attractive to many households; stove subsidies meanwhile tend to modestly improve private outcomes. To capture the social benefits of cleaner cooking, new and effective incentives may be needed to support household use of efficient stoves.