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But billions of people without access to such energy are exposed to harmful fumes from cooking on open fires and traditional indoor cookstoves.

This kills 4 million people every year – more than either malaria or tuberculosis.

Women and girls in some regions can spend over 20 hours every week gathering wood, or allocate up to a third of their household income to buy fuel.

Using wood as a cooking and heating fuel places pressure on local forests; burning it contributes to climate change.

New cleaner cookstoves, running on a variety of different fuels, are more efficient than traditional stoves.

This alleviates pressure on resources and helps preserve the environment. It also frees women up from spending so long gathering wood, allowing them to focus on other activities.

Cleaner cookstoves

Shell is one of the founding partners of The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. In 2010 Shell made a $6m commitment to enable a thriving market for clean cookstoves. This contribution is more than solid financial support.  It has provided business expertise to better understand the markets for cookstoves, including through the secondment of a Shell business professional. This secondee is helping the Alliance attract investors and supporting stove businesses to develop carbon credits. Shell is also raising awareness across its networks and helping to recruit more public and private partners for the Alliance. 

Peruvian farmer Monica Sebastian used to cook on a traditional stove. She was concerned about the poor health of her children caused by smoke and fumes from the stove inside her home. Then she learned of the new stoves. Changing her approach to cooking improved her life: “My children are no longer sick and I feel healthier,” she said.  Shell’s support adds to the earlier and ongoing work of Shell Foundation, an independent charity, in establishing and further developing the Alliance. 

The Foundation applies business thinking to global development challenges. A pioneer of the sector since 2002, it works across all aspects of the market to help deliver affordable, durable, clean cookstoves to the people that need them on a global scale. It focuses on solutions that are sustainable over the long-term and builds networks within the industry. This work led to the creation of the Alliance with the UN Foundation.

Lighting up Nigerian homes

In Nigeria, power shortages can disrupt daily life. Residents of Bonny Island in the Niger Delta, like others, were relying on diesel generators for electricity.

Shell companies have helped set up a local utility company that supplies affordable, reliable and cleaner electricity to the community near the Bonny Island LNG plant operated by Nigeria LNG.

Power generated by gas turbines at the Nigeria LNG plant and an oil export terminal on the island operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company is sent to a grid that serves businesses and homes in the area, benefiting around 75,000 people.

Locals receive a minimum amount of free electricity. Over this threshold, prices are set according to income, making it affordable for all. The utility company has generated 200 full-time jobs and boosted the local economy.

“Business is booming thanks to the uninterrupted power supply,” said Cassiel Irimagha, who runs a local timber business, supermarket and laundry.