Since the Adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 by the UN, the world has been set on a fast track to mend the energy access gap in developing and emerging economies. Despite the energy access achievements, there are still 2.6 billion people who do not have access to clean cooking fuels, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.
This results in social, economic, and environmental deprivation in some parts of the world such as Sub-Saharan Africa — which alone constitutes about 35 percent of the global shortfalls in access to clean cooking fuels — hampering global efforts to universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services.
The billions of forgotten people still rely on traditional inefficient stove burners with kerosene and solid biomass fuels, such as wood, charcoal and animal dung. The problem with these unsustainable cooking practices — paired with very poor ventilated households — is that these fuels contribute to indoor air pollution when burned in inefficient stoves, affecting human health.
Data shows that indoor smoke pollution can be 100 times greater than the acceptable levels for fine particles. According to the World Health Organization, around 3.8 million people (mostly women and children) die prematurely from suffocation due to air pollution attributed to primitive sources of energy.
Burning these fuels releases soot and other harmful emissions and particulates, increasing the health and climate change consequences through a surge in pollutant levels. The push to switch to modern, cleaner cooking and heating fuels is urgently needed to end poverty, save millions of premature deaths, and improve living standards of the people.
To alleviate energy-impoverished communities and achieve the aims of the SDGs, the oil and gas industry can upgrade the “energy ladder” via the adoption of efficient, modern burning fuels such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG): A byproduct of petroleum. Promoting the adoption of LPG as a fuel option to replace liquid and solid pollutant fuels would be an important step to improve impoverished people’s lives. Moreover, replacing biomass-based fuels will reduce pressure on natural resources and support nature’s conservation efforts. Overall, despite the international calls to transform the energy system away from fossil-based fuels, the oil and gas industry will continue to play a significant role as a key contributor to achieving the aims of the SDGs.