News from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Denmark helps eliminate life threatening smoke from homes worldwide


Every year, 3.7 million people worldwide die prematurely due to cooking over open fires or wood-fired stoves. They are exposed to harmful smoke from cooking based on charcoal, wood, or agricultural waste. The government now strengthens efforts to promote healthier and more sustainable solutions, also known as clean cooking, with about 72 million US dollar.

"Far too many people are still forced to cook over open fires. It is damaging to the climate, and is deeply harmful to human health. Especially women and children are affected by respiratory diseases and die too early. We can and must address it. That's why we are now prioritizing these efforts," says Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy, Dan Jørgensen.

A new Danish contribution will be announced at a clean cooking summit in Paris today, hosted by the President of Tanzania and the Prime Minister of Norway. Denmark announces increased support totalling 500 million Danish kroner over the next four years. A first contribution amounts to about 20 million US dollar to the World Bank's Clean Cooking Fund.

In Africa alone, over half a million women and children die annually as a result of cooking based on charcoal and firewood, generating dangerous smoke and emits CO2. In total, 2.3 billion people worldwide cook on open fires or traditional stoves, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. 80 percent of Africa's population is exposed to the harmful smoke. Cooking three meals a day over an open fire can equal smoking two packs of cigarettes daily. Additionally, an average household south of the Sahara spends two hours each day collecting firewood. That time could be used by women and children in other ways - for example, to work and earn an income, or to educate themselves.

The fund works to develop a market for more efficient and cleaner stoves. This includes supporting the development of national subsidy schemes so the poorest can afford to buy better stoves, which are often more expensive. It supports the development of a market with local businesses that deliver cleaner stoves at a reasonable price to households, schools, and health clinics, among others. For example, Denmark has supported the rollout of stoves in 150 schools in Rwanda.

The World Bank's Clean Cooking Fund also supports efforts to develop national standards for cleaner stoves and enforce standards in the market, phasing out harmful models.

The fund aims to provide clean cooking to 200 million people, primarily in Africa.

In addition to the health risks, the use of biomass for cooking over open fires significantly increases global greenhouse gas emissions. This applies to both the burning itself and the deforestation to obtain firewood for cooking. Especially dry areas with a sparse amount of trees and bushes are heavily affected, binding less CO2 and risking ending up barren. The use of fuel and charcoal worldwide contributes annually to deforestation of an area the size of Ireland. The problem is greatest in Africa, which accounts for over 60 percent of the world's charcoal production.

"The effort for cleaner cooking is a good example of how development and climate efforts go hand in hand. We can save lives by reducing smoke in the kitchen and simultaneously reduce CO2 emissions. The Danish government must engage more in this agenda," says Dan Jørgensen.

According to IEA, transitioning to universal access to clean energy for cooking can reduce global emissions by 1.5 Gt CO2-eq by 2030. That's equivalent to the total emissions from air or maritime transport in 2022.


Clean cooking involves cooking with safe and more sustainable fuels that do not pollute the air and make people sick at home. It should be seen as a contrast to open fires or traditional stoves that use biomass such as wood or charcoal. Four out of five residents in Africa still cook over open fires or traditional "stoves" that use polluting fuels.

Technological solutions to the problem already exist and are readily available: It requires stoves that use less, healthier, and more sustainable fuels.

Furthermore, the costs associated with solving the problem are affordable when considering the world's resources. It is estimated by the International Energy Agency that 4 billion dollarsa are needed to provide all inhabitants of the African continent with access to cleaner and safer cooking by 2030.

The government's new contribution is in addition to Denmark's support for the World Bank's Clean Cooking Fund. Here, the government already supports with 12,5 million US dollar from 2021-2025.

At the summit in Paris, leaders from around the world are meeting to find solutions to the challenges of cooking on the African continent. Hosts of the summit include the President of Tanzania, Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan, the Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre, the Director of the International Energy Agency, IEA, Dr. Fatih Birol, and the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina.

The World Bank's Clean Cooking Fund seeks to provide cleaner cooking for 200 million people, primarily in Africa. The fund receives public support from other governments and mobilizes private financing. The fund helps with everything from advising on national technical standards for stoves, to ensuring that the standards are met, to setting subsidy levels and contributing subsidies that make stoves accessible to the poor. The subsidies also enable a profitable business model for local firms producing and/or selling stoves.

Contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press office - - for further information.

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