The Growing Role of LPG in Clean Cooking for SDG 7
Side Event at the SDG 7 Conference, Bangkok, Thailand
February 21-23, 2018
LPG is recognized as one of the ideal low carbon clean cooking fuels to help reduce the 2.6 million annual premature deaths from Household Air Pollution. The IEA projects LPG as the appropriate solution for around half of the 2.8 billion people still requiring clean cooking access. Many governments have already prioritized large-scale LPG deployment in their energy access plans.
This panel brought together senior representatives from a country massively scaling up LPG adoption, and international organizations active in facilitating and financing these changes. The discussion focused on regional, national and community-level actions required to expand LPG distribution safely, efficiently and affordably in support of SDG 7 as well as other SDGs.
John Hauge, CFO, Global LPG Partnership
· Hon. Shri Ashutosh Jindal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India
· Marcel Alers, Head of Energy, UN Development Programme (UNDP)
· Sheila Oparaocha, Executive Director, ENERGIA
Marcel Alers, Head of Energy for UNDP, noted that clean cooking has been a “forgotten child” of energy access. There is a lack of leadership and programming support. Policy makers need to make it a priority, on par with access to electricity, but “you could say clean cooking is more important than electricity because people need to eat”. He added that studies are now clear that LPG, despite being derived from fossil fuels, has little to no climate impact and has tremendous health benefits. A key challenge to overcome, however, is the upfront cost, both in terms of required infrastructure and for the consumer. Strong political commitment is needed for countries to create conducive environments for LPG investments. For LPG consumers, microfinance, third party ownership, and pay-as-you-go systems should be considered, and subsidies should be targeted at the very poor. We should also clearly define the healthcare cost from cooking with solid fuels.
Another important issue is behavioral change to encourage sustained and exclusive use of LPG. Sheila Oparaocha, Executive Director of ENERGIA, noted that many women in developing countries appreciate and desire LPG as a modern fuel to address their cooking energy needs and time poverty. To put social issues front and center, behavior change efforts need to adapt to current constraints on women due to sociocultural norms around gender, as the energy sector is dominated by men and engineers. As energy is not used for its own sake but as a means to an end, solutions include ensuring asset ownership by women, designating women as subsidy beneficiaries (as done in India), and involving women in LPG delivery through community entrepreneurship. Education is also needed to correct user misperceptions about the relative cost of LPG to other cooking fuels.
India is undergoing a national-scale LPG transition, led by the government in partnership with local industry. Ashutosh Jindal, Joint Secretary at India’s Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, shared that 30 million more LPG connections will be provided in 2018, against an increased overall target of having more than 95% of the national population with access to LPG by 2020. (Both the connection and subsidy are provided to a family in the woman’s name.) Strong institutions and political commitment, as well as technology – such as mobile bank accounts and GIS mapping to improve LPG infrastructure in rural areas – have enabled the program’s success. India has hosted delegations from other countries desiring to scale up LPG and found that many of these lessons are applicable, even if there is no "one size fits all" approach. The next step is to go from access to usage for this “huge aspirational fuel”.
· People in developing countries want LPG for clean cooking. LPG is the most promising solution in urban contexts, and increasingly accessible and affordable in rural contexts.
· As the primary cooks in most households, women must be front and center in energy decision-making. Useful tools include targeted subsidies, involving women in LPG delivery and supply chains, and leveraging community savings/lending groups to mobilize consumer financing.
· Strong institutions and political commitment are needed to scale up LPG use. Organizations like UNDP, that have convening power, and GLPGP, which work directly with governments and on the ground, can help countries create enabling environments.