Sustainable Development Goal 7

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

The International Energy Agency is at the forefront of global efforts to assess and analyse persistent energy access deficit, providing annual country-by-country data on access to electricity and clean cooking (SDG 7.1) and the main data source for tracking official progress towards SDG targets on renewables (SDG 7.2) and energy efficiency (SDG 7.3).

Access to clean cooking

Updated data this year show that the number of people without clean cooking facilities is declining gradually for the first time. Over 400 million people have gained access to clean cooking since 2011 in India and China as a result of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) programmes and clean air policies. The challenge in sub-Saharan Africa remains acute, with a deteriorating picture. Only 17% of the population have clean cooking access. In total, 2.7 billion people worldwide still do not have access to clean cooking, and household air pollution, mostly from cooking smoke, is linked to 2.6 million premature deaths.

Nearly 2.7 billion people lack access to clean cooking facilities, relying instead on biomass, coal or kerosene as their primary cooking fuel. In the past, progress has been very limited compared to progress in electricity access. However, this year the WEO reports a turning point, with updated data showing a gradual decline in the number of people worldwide without clean cooking access.

Developing Asia is home to around 65% of the global population without access, with 1.7 billion people lacking clean cooking facilities. Five-times more people lack clean cooking access than electricity in this region. However, the latest data shows promising signs, with 525 million people gaining access since 2011, compared with only 250 million between 2000 and 2011. In India and China, access rates have reached 47% and 70% respectively.

In India, national data show a reduction of 14 percentage points in the share of population relying on biomass and kerosene between 2011 and 2015, with most now using LPG instead. Since 2015, government figures indicate that an additional 50 million free LPG connections have been provided to poor households via the high-profile PMUY scheme. In China, natural gas infrastructure development is helping to reduce the use of biomass and kerosene. Several other countries in developing Asia are also making efforts to promote clean cooking, employing different methods depending on the national context.

The challenge in sub-Saharan Africa remains acute, with a deteriorating picture. Only 17% of the population have clean cooking access. The vast majority of the 890 million people without access rely on gathering biomass for cooking, in particular in rural areas. This damages health and impairs productivity improvements. Strong population growth means that almost 275 million more Africans now lack clean cooking access than in 2000. Deforestation, linked to biomass collection, is also becoming a major concern: the region lost 12% of its forest area between 1990 and 2015.

However, 68 million people have gained clean cooking access in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000, mostly in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan. In Sudan, around half of the urban population uses domestically refined LPG for cooking, though the government seeks to import LPG to supplement local supply. In Kenya, LPG is now used by 24% of urban households. It is displacing kerosene as government initiatives aim to reduce biomass use, however, 96% of rural households still use biomass. In Ethiopia, LPG is the primary cooking fuel for only 0.5% of households, but gains in electricity access are beginning to make an impact, with 23% of urban households cooking with electricity in 2016 compared with only 3% in 2011. In South Africa, electricity is the main clean cooking fuel, used by three-quarters of households nationally.

Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean cooking facilities, 2017


Outlook for clean cooking

The means of achieving clean cooking depends on the availability of biomass and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in different regions. Overall, LPG is the most cost-effective means to access clean cooking in more than half of all cases, with most of the rest moving to improved and more energy-efficient biomass cookstoves. The resulting increase in LPG demand leads to a small increase in CO2 emissions, but the overall GHG effect is more than offset by reduced methane emissions from incomplete combustion of biomass as those using LPG turn away in many cases from burning wood and other biofuels

The number of people in the New Policies Scenario without access to clean cooking facilities decreases to 2.2 billion in 2030 and 1.8 billion in 2040. Developing Asia still hosts the largest population without access in 2040. In China, access to clean cooking is slow to reach the last 10-15% of the population, leaving 105 million people without access in 2040, the majority of which rely on biomass. In India, the access rate is 76% by 2040, which means around 390 million remain without access. In sub-Saharan Africa, the switch to clean cooking turns a corner around 2030, so that by 2040 fewer than 820 million people do not have clean cooking access, in alignment with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 goal to harness all African energy resources to ensure modern, efficient, reliable, cost effective, renewable and environmentally friendly energy to all African households.

In the Sustainable Development Scenario, universal access to clean cooking facilities is achieved by 2030, alongside access to electricity, in line with SDG 7.1. Similarly as for electricity access, given expected strong population growth over that period, particularly in countries where many people still lack access, achieving universal access means a cumulative total of around 2.5 billion people gaining access to cleaner cooking facilities for the first time over the period. This reduces the health impact of air pollution, brings gender equality dividends, and is achieved without increasing GHG emissions. To reach this goal, average annual investment should more than double compared to the New Policies Scenario, to reach the $3.9 billion required.

Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels for cooking, 2000-2030

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