Push for cleaner stoves in poor countries to cut pollution

Updated 08 April 2015

Push for cleaner stoves in poor countries to cut pollution

NEW DELHI: Every evening, hundreds of millions of Indian women hover over crude stoves making dinner for their families. They feed the flames with polluting fuels like kerosene or cow dung, and breathe the acrid smoke wafting from the fires.
The smoke, containing high concentrations of tiny particles known as black carbon, is responsible for premature deaths from cancer and other diseases and is causing or exacerbating environmental problems from climate change and glacial melt to falling crop yields.
When you add up all the tiny stoves, the result comes close to catastrophic. And yet black carbon is largely unregulated and its costs unmeasured, creating a barrier to earmarking public and donor funds for underwriting the use of cleaner cookers.
That could now start to change. A team of economists, scientists and health experts working with The Gold Standard Foundation have developed a uniform way to calculate how much black carbon is released from cooking stoves that use different technologies or fuels.
It’s a first and necessary step, they say, in accessing the tens of billions of dollars it will cost to provide cleaner cookers worldwide for some 2.8 billion people still using firewood, kerosene or sundried patties made of hand-packed cow dung.
“What captures media attention is the cute animals, the crying babies and the issues with great PR groups. Indoor air pollution isn’t one of them,” said author and economist Bjorn Lomborg, who founded the Copenhagen Consensus Center, an economic think tank specializing in climate issues. But when you crunch the numbers, “you see that some of the boring stuff really does a lot of good.”
While the focus of efforts is calculating black carbon from cooking stoves, the same methods can be applied to other sources of soot including vehicles or crop burning. Those calculations can then be used by program directors to court funds, as they will be able to show how projects spare the environment from more pollution and save lives.
“The tools just haven’t been there to help with policy, even though we’ve known about the dangers for a long time,” said Owen Hewlett, chief technical officer at The Gold Standard Foundation, which released the new set of standards and calculations last week.
Indoor air pollution by black carbon is a relentless killer, causing some 4.3 million deaths worldwide every year, which is more than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Most of those deaths happen in poor countries unable to afford cleaner stoves.
Formed by incomplete combustion, black carbon is a major component in the tiny particulate matter known as PM2.5 that is now one of the most common measures for air pollution.
But it has other insidious environmental effects. It contributes to climate change, with studies suggesting it may be responsible for nearly 20 percent of global warming; it darkens the ice of the Arctic and high-altitude glaciers so that it absorbs more sunlight and melts more quickly; it messes with the weather by interacting in complex ways with clouds; and it is blotting out the sun and hurting crop yields.
A 3-kilometer-thick (2-mile-thick) layer of black carbon pollution over parts of Asia is blocking up to 15 percent of the sunlight from reaching Earth in a phenomenon known as “global dimming,” according to research led by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a climate scientist at the University of California, San Diego.
He and other scientists found the regional pollution contributed to a 36 percent drop in India’s wheat yields in 2010.
Experts say that reducing the constant emission of black carbon offers immediate climate benefits, since it has a short lifespan in the atmosphere compared with carbon dioxide, which can linger for centuries.
“Financing less polluting cook stoves is one of the few win-win options for the planet,” Ramanathan, who is also a director of a cookstove charity, said in a statement.
The UN-backed Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, founded by Hillary Rodham Clinton, has helped cookstove charities find some financing through grants as well as carbon credits — the so-called “currency” of the market for carbon dioxide, issued for programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In total, the 227 programs in the alliance have supplied more than 5 million new stoves. But that’s still 95 million short of its 2020 goal and a tiny fraction of the total global need.
A recent study by 82 economists for Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus estimated it would cost $137 billion to give everyone the cleanest burning gas-fueled stoves.
Every dollar of that one big investment would produce $2 in benefits such as lower medical costs, cheaper fuel and longer lives, the study shows. But that may not be the best way to spend limited resources, considering that one expense is nearly equal to the entire global development budget.
Instead, the study suggests a partial measure in spending $5 billion to provide half of those in need with more efficient stoves that still burn solid fuel, rather than gas. This would eliminate the dirtiest stoves first, and result in saving half a million lives. Overall, this approach would produce benefits of $10 for every dollar spent.
“You grab the low-hanging fruit first, such that you make a big improvement and still have funds to fix other things,” Lomborg said. “If we can simply point out the small targets and show the most value for money, it’s more likely they’ll get funded.”


Palestinians should support candidates ‘based on issues not ethnicity’

Updated 6 min 21 sec ago

Palestinians should support candidates ‘based on issues not ethnicity’

  • Newman came within 2,000 votes of unseating Dan Lipinski
  • The 3rd Congressional District has been held by a Democrat since 1975 and is overwhelmingly Democratic

CHICAGO: Most Arab-Americans in an Illinois congressional district race chose to support an American candidate who supported Arab and Palestinian rights over a Palestinian Arab-American candidate they said could not win the election, the spokesman for the winner said on Wednesday.

Shadin Maali, whose family originates from Beitunia, Palestine near Ramallah, said she agreed to become the spokesperson for Marie Newman over the candidacy of Palestinian American videographer Rashad “Rush” Darwish because Darwish could not win and Newman could.

Maali, who serves as Newman’s campaign chairwoman and spokesperson, said Newman sought Arab-American support, embracing many of the community’s political concerns. Newman, she said, listened to the community and included them in her campaign. That support, she said, helped to unseat Congressman Dan Lipinski, an entrenched eight-term conservative Democrat who had marginalized Arab-American issues and supported many anti-Palestinian congressional bills.

“A representative, if they are going to represent our district, he needs to align with our values. If he wants our support, he needs to align with our values, which are not radical values,” Maali said during an appearance on “The Ray Hanania Show” on Detroit’s WNZK AM 690 and US Arab Radio network, which is sponsored by Arab News newspaper every Wednesday morning.

“We support human rights. To support civil rights. To support justice. The fact that he (Lipinski) didn’t care and denied and declined meeting with us was a slap in the face.”

Newman came within 2,000 votes of unseating Lipinski, losing in March 2018. But with Arab-American support, she easily defeated Lipinski in the March 2020 Democratic Primary by more than 2,816 votes.

Newman won with 52,384 votes while Lipinski lost with 49,568. The Palestinian-Arab candidate who tried to appeal to Arab-American candidates, Rush Darwish, spent nearly $800,000 on the election but only won 6,351 votes, or 5.7 percent of the 110,852 votes cast.

Maali said that she unsuccessfully appealed to Darwish to exit the race and support Newman, who backs many of the issues that Arabs and Palestinian Americans support.

Newman “had the strongest path to victory,” Maali said, while Rush Darwish, a first-time candidate with little experience, did not. She called it a “tough choice,” but added that in the end the best interests of the district’s constituents, including Arab Americans, was the priority.

“So, when she asked me to be her campaign chairwoman, it was a hard decision for me to make because we did have an Arab-American, a Palestinian-American running,” she said.

“That was the reason why I supported her because she represented us on our issues. She gave us a platform . . . and she could win.”

The 3rd Congressional District has been held by a Democrat since 1975 and is overwhelmingly Democratic. It was ranked as having the eighth largest Arab-American population of 50 American congressional districts by The New York Times. It also has the largest concentration of Palestinian-American voters, Maali said.

Maali said that to be successful in winning support for Palestine, Arab-American voters also needed to support the mainstream American population on issues that were important to them.

“Palestine is not the only issue,” she said.

“We care about health care. We care about education. We care about incentives for small businesses. We care about the refugees and immigration reform. We care about all of those issues. We are here as Americans. We care about making sure human rights are not violated anywhere in the world.”

Maali said that Newman supported the right of Arab-Americans to express their opposition to the policies of foreign countries such as Israel, noting that boycotts were an expression of free speech.

Acknowledging that Americans boycotting the racism of the government of South Africa helped to force the end of apartheid there, Maali said Americans also supported boycotting Israel’s government policies, which discriminated against civilians.

“We wanted to make sure we would always be able to practice our right to boycott because it is a fundamental civil right,” Maali said.

Lipinski, she said, supported the passage of legislation that punished Americans who supported boycotting Israeli government policies in the Occupied West Bank.

During the second segment of the radio show, conservative political consultant, Jeff Davis, of Victory Media, said that the public should not rely on news media polling that showed former Vice President Joe Biden as having a significant edge over President Donald Trump.

Davis said that voters should concentrate on several key battleground states including Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Michigan.

An analysis of the Arab-American population shows that four battleground states — Michigan, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania — have significant Arab-American voters who could help to drive the election results.

But Davis said that with the new system of mail-in ballots, some state elections might not be fully tabulated for as long as 10 days after the Nov. 3, 2020 election.

“The question really is, how soon will we know? The difference is vote-by-mail applications because of COVID-19 are through the roof. What that means is you are going to have a certain amount of percentage that is going to be outstanding on election day,” Davis said.

 “We might not know for nine days (after the election),” Davis said.

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“The Ray Hanania Show” is broadcast every Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. EST in Detroit and simulcast on the Arab News newspaper Facebook page. For more information, visit Arab News online at www.arabnews.com/us2020election.