Reduction levels varied by stove type, with more advanced stoves suggesting greatest potential for climate benefits.

Use of cleaner, more efficient cookstoves can significantly reduce emissions of the short-lived climate pollutant black carbon, according to new research published in the journal Atmospheric Environment. Commonly seen as soot, black carbon is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, and biomass such as firewood or charcoal, the primary cooking fuels for up to 3 billion people globally.

In “Black Carbon Cookstoves Emissions: A Field Assessment of 19 Stove/Fuel Combinations,” researchers evaluated five classes of stove and fuel combinations including simple wood, rocket, advanced wood, simple charcoal, and advanced charcoal. Some of the advanced stoves reduced black carbon emissions by over 60%, suggesting the greatest potential climate benefit.

Dr. Michael Johnson, Senior Scientist at Berkeley Air Monitoring Group, said the results of this study will help inform future climate models and improve approaches that aim to show the climate benefits of cookstove interventions.

 “Through our field assessments, we found that use of some advanced biomass cookstoves have the potential to provide climate benefits by being more fuel efficient and producing less black carbon per kilogram of fuel used,” Dr. Johnson said. “The emission factors from this study can be used for climate models as well as help inform approaches aiming to quantify the short-term climate benefits associated with cookstove interventions.”

Black carbon is the second largest contributor to global warming, after carbon dioxide. Black carbon warms the Earth by absorbing sunlight in the atmosphere, as well as depositing on ice and snow where it increases the pace of ice and glacier melting. It is categorized as a ‘short-lived’ climate pollutant (SLCP) because it only stays in the atmosphere for several days to a week; however, its negative impacts are both fast-acting and extensive.

The study looked at approximately 450 real-world cooking events during which emissions were sampled and analyzed for black carbon, organic carbon, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.  Study sites included Cambodia, Kenya, India, Uganda, and Vietnam. The results of the study will help researchers better understand which cookstove and fuel combinations have the greatest climate benefits when used in the field.


Access the full report here.