In the fight against climate change, we often think about the big problems like coal-based electricity, car-centric transportation, and energy-sucking buildings. But there’s equally important problem we need to address for environmental and human-health reasons: biomass cookstoves.
In fact, the use of biomass-based cookstoves in developing countries represents a triple threat: They contribute to severe deforestation, they help accelerate short-term global warming by emitting “black carbon,” and they cause millions of deaths from respiratory illness each year.
Many NGO’s, international development organizations, and entrepreneurs have started taking on this problem — helping accelerate the use of alternative cooking methods to reduce harmful emissions.
In Mozambique, locally-produced ethanol from waste cassava may be one answer.
Two companies, CleanStar Ventures and Novozymes, have formed a biofuels operation in the country to support local farmers, cut back on deforestation, and provide a cleaner-burning fuel for local residents. The venture, called CleanStar Mozambique, was announced late last week. It’s designed to help phase out charcoal in the country — a resource used for cooking that has resulted in the decline of nearly one third of Africa’s forests.
By 2014 the venture will involve 2,000 smallholders over 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares), supply 20% of Maputo households with a clean and cheaper alternative to charcoal and thus protect 9,000 acres of indigenous forests per year. The company will also employ approximately 1,000 people in Mozambique. From a commercial standpoint, CSM is replicable and scalable across large parts of the developing world, offering the promise of widespread development impacts and significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. By helping establish proof-of-concept in Mozambique, Novozymes intends to catalyze the development of agriculture, food and ethanol industries in developing countries, creating new, sustainable, bio-based markets.
Indeed, with support for biofuels in developed countries waning due of a combination of commercialization problems, political backlash, and environmental concerns, companies like Novozymes are looking for opportunities in new markets. Supplying ethanol for cookstoves offers a much easier market to penetrate than petroleum fuels.
Watch the film below to see how the CleanStar Mozambique harnesses the power of local farmers to develop a more sustainable fuels industry — cutting back on deforestation, reducing black carbon, and protecting people’s health.
This is one of the most important fronts in addressing climate change today.