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Senators Collins, Durbin Introduce Clean Cooking Bill to Improve Global Environment, Public Health

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), introduced the Clean Cooking Support Act, a bill that would address the health, environmental, and economic problems caused by exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires.  The bipartisan legislation reinforces the U.S. government’s commitment to spurring the adoption of clean cooking around the world.

“Our bill aims to address a serious global public health and environmental issue where leadership by the United States can make a real difference.  It would directly benefit some of the world’s poorest people, including the women and girls who are disproportionately affected, and reduce harmful pollution that affects us all,” said Senator Collins.  “I urge my colleagues to join me and Senator Durbin in supporting the Clean Cooking Support Act.”

“The U.S. should take a leadership position in creating and implementing climate solutions that support a cleaner, healthier planet for all,” said Senator Durbin.  “With the Clean Cooking Support Act, we can reduce harmful emissions and protect people from the dangerous health risks of inefficient and unsafe cookstoves and fuels.  Our bipartisan legislation will ensure that American development, assistance, and expertise helps in this timely effort.”

More than two billion people, or thirty percent of the global population, rely on “dirty cooking,” such as open fires or inefficient, polluting, and unsafe cookstoves that use agricultural waste, coal, dung, or other solid fuels, to cook their meals.  The majority of people using these types of cookstoves, and fuels are in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  Exposure to smoke from these traditional cooking methods and open fires causes chronic and acute diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.  Household air pollution caused by traditional cookstoves and open fires leads to 3.2 million premature deaths annually, including 450,000 children younger than five years of age, most of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

“We cannot reach our shared development and climate goals without addressing access to clean energy for cooking said Dymphna van der Lans, Chief Executive Officer of Clean Cooking Alliance. It is one of the most under-invested environmental health challenges and, unless we make meaningful changes, some 1.9 billion people will still be without access to clean cooking in 2030. I am grateful to Senator Collins and Senator Durbin for taking action on this critical issue. This legislation is an important step toward improving the health of millions and helping to right a climate and energy injustice.”  

“Emissions from combustion-based cooking appliances can cause lung cancer, exacerbate respiratory diseases, lead to heart attacks and strokes and even cause premature death. Transitioning to cleaner forms of cooking will have immediate health benefits, particularly for women and children who often bear the brunt of this pollution exposure globally,” said Harold Wimmer, President & CEO of the American Lung Association. “Thank you to Senators Collins and Durbin for the commitment to cleaning up the air we breathe.”

Traditional cookstoves also create serious environmental problems. More than half of man-made black carbon emissions come from household fuel combustion. Black carbon is a powerful short-lived climate pollutant with warming impact on the climate that is 460-1,500 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

Since 2010, the Clean Cooking Alliance, an innovative public-private partnership hosted by the United Nations Foundation, has supported the adoption of clean cooking worldwide. The Clean Cooking Support Act would support this effort by:

  • Creating an interagency working group managed by the Secretary of State and implemented by the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. This working group will consist of at least six relevant federal agencies providing support for clean cookstoves initiatives.
  • Authorizing a Clean Cooking Program that engages non-governmental and international partners in the support, distribution, and development of clean cooking and their adaptation.
  • Establishing an annual reporting requirement that requires all participating agencies to describe the progress made to further the development, distribution, and support of the Clean Cooking Program.

A diverse coalition of businesses, research institutions, governments, and advocacy organizations have signed on to support this new legislation. They include: American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Boston College Global Observatory of Pollution and Health, Burn Design Lab, BURN USA, Chef Jose Andres, CLASP (Collaborative Labeling and Appliance Standards Program), Clean Cooking Alliance, Energia, Every Breath Counts Coalition, Global Women’s Network for Energy Transition, Pivot Energy, Project Gaia, Solar Cookers International, Spark+ Fund Africa, Sustainable Energy for All, United Nations Association – USA, University of Chicago Center for Global Health, Value for Women, Whitten & Roy Partnership, World Central Kitchen, and World LPG Association  

Click HERE to read the bill text.