LPG’s Vital Role in Clean Cooking, Climate Solutions, and Sustainable Development

By Michael Kelly

COP28 was gaveled to a close on the morning of 13th December after a long night of sometimes heated negotiations. The eventual impacts of the agreement are still being parsed but one thing is very clear, for the first time in the conference’s extensive history, COP28 placed clean cooking at the forefront of discussions around climate change, environmental sustainability, carbon finance, investment, gender equality, food systems, and sustainable cities. This is the first time the global community acknowledged the importance of clean cooking in so many different and crucial areas of development and environmental impact.

As a clean cooking fuel, LPG can replace traditional biomass and coal, mitigating indoor air pollution and improving the health and well-being of millions worldwide. With approximately one-third of the world’s population lacking access to clean cooking methods and relying on polluting fuels, the use of LPG can have a significant positive impact by reducing household air pollution and preventing an estimated 3.8 million premature deaths annually, surpassing the total number of deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.
Switching to LPG also helps stave off global deforestation by eliminating the need to harvest trees for fuel. Switching just 100 households from harvested wood to LPG could save one hectare of forest annually. In fact, we can save 2.65 million hectares of forest, or 51% of annual global net deforestation, with every 268 million households converted to using LPG.

In Africa, the most common use of LPG is for cooking and it is not only a tool to reduce emissions, but also to advance gender equality. In many communities, the burden of cooking with solid fuel falls disproportionately on women and girls. In addition to reducing the effects of harmful air pollution, switching to LPG frees up time for women and girls to study or work outside the home.

Recognition of the benefits of LPG is being driven by the leaders of organisations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) which during COP28 pledged up to 20 percent of AfDB’s future approved annual lending programmes for energy will be allocated toward clean cooking. The Executive Director of IEA, Fatih Birol, stated that he wanted to make 2024 a pivotal year in addressing the challenge of clean cooking in Africa and is convening a major high-level summit on the 14th of May 2024 in Paris to address this issue.

In the face of escalating climate change concerns and the urgent need to transition to cleaner energy sources, LPG emerges as a powerful ally in our quest for a sustainable future. LPG’s versatility offers a range of applications that can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and support global decarbonisation efforts.

The World Liquid Gas Association (WLGA) and its members such as the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association of South Africa (LPGSA) are committed to ensuring that access to LPG continues to increase across the African continent. We invite you to join us in November 2024 in the magical city of Cape Town for LPG Week 2024 (https://www.lpgweek.com/capetown2024). LPG Week is the LPG industry’s premier global event bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders in the LPG industry to discuss the latest trends, innovations, and challenges facing the sector. This year in Cape Town we are meeting under the theme of “Energy For All” which emphasises the immense benefits of LPG as a clean fuel ensuring widespread access to clean energy throughout Africa.