Climate Action is a hot topic in Guatemala and for good reason. As one of the top ten countries most vulnerable to climate change, Guatemala has every reason to invest resources in an aggressive climate policy. In many ways, SDG 13* is central to TRL’s work. Cooking with biomass fuels such as wood (the prevailing practice in 84% of homes in the Sololá Department) releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and black carbon, greenhouse gasses (GHGs) that are key sources of climate change. TRL directly confronts these GHG sources with each open-cooking fire replaced by an ONIL stove.
An estimated 2 to 5 percent of annual GHG emissions worldwide result from traditional cooking practices according to Project Drawdown. Our approach to this issue is three-fold: through the Improved Cookstove Project we address (1) unsustainable wood harvesting around Lake Atitlan (see the graphic below from the United Nations Foundation to learn why forest conservation is key); (2) incomplete combustion of wood fuel that emits pollutants like carbon monoxide and black carbon in addition to CO2; and (3) limited awareness of the drivers of global climate change.
A multifaceted approach is essential to fight climate change. And while efforts to lower emissions often target CO2 levels, we cannot neglect other highly potent pollutants like black carbon. According to the World Resources Institute, we can avoid 1℉ of global warming by 2050 by implementing cost effective solutions that target these “Super Pollutants”. Encouraging the use of clean cookstoves that improve efficiency and people’s health is mentioned specifically as one of these solutions. Moreover, in terms of cost-effectiveness, improved cookstove technology has high returns. This job market paper estimates an average rate of return of 300% and savings of $120 per year in fuel costs for users of energy efficient cookstoves. The research speaks for itself. Here at TRL, we believe in a multifaceted approach: environmental solutions like the ONIL stove that benefit the planet and local community members.
*The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the 17 objectives set by the UN in 2015 that address global challenges related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation and more. Each goal is broken down into multiple targets to guide governments, businesses, civil society and the general public to work together to achieve each SDG by 2030. Here, you can read more about each goal, their respective targets, and the ways in which each of us can support progress towards a brighter future for all.