Clean cooking energy transitions are extremely challenging to achieve, but they offer enormous potential health, environmental, and societal benefits. A study by researchers from IIASA, the University of British Columbia, and the Stockholm Environment Institute provides new insights about an Indian program that aims to solve one of the most difficult developmental challenges of the 21st century – smoky kitchens.
In their study published in Nature Energy, researchers endeavored to understand how the launch of the program has altered both the adoption and use of LPG. They employed an LPG sales dataset from one district of a southern state of India (Koppal district in Karnataka state) to carry out their analysis. This is a novel approach, as previous analyses have relied largely on self-reported survey data, which may suffer from inherent biases.
“Our work reaffirms that there is a distinct difference between the adoption of a new technology and its sustained use. The PMUY was specifically designed to promote adoption, and based on that metric, this program is an unparalleled success, with near universal LPG access expected within the next couple of years. However, if we focus on the ultimate goal of smokeless kitchens, PMUY must be modified to explicitly incentivize regular LPG use. Our study suggests some obvious mid-course corrections to the program to encourage regular use of LPG. This includes the use of seasonal vouchers during low cash flow periods for poor rural agricultural households, and behavioral nudges and stronger information and education campaigns,”Abhishek Kar, lead author of the study
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This study was funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Cooking Alliance, the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Collaborative Research and Training Experience- Atmospheric Aerosol Program (CREATE-AAP) at the University of British Columbia.
Kar A, Pachauri S, Bailis R, & Zerriffi H (2019). Using sales data to assess cooking gas adoption and the impact of India’s Ujjwala program in rural Karnataka. Nature Energy DOI: 10.1038/s41560-019-0429-8