Press release

UK supports global plans to help protect people from cancer and respiratory illnesses

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Britain has joined global action to help prevent millions of people dying each year from respiratory illnesses.

Britain has joined global action and pledged £31 million to help prevent millions of people dying each year from illnesses linked to cooking over coal, wood, dung or biomass cookstoves, International Development Minister Baroness Northover announced today.

Each year 4.3 million people die from illnesses caused by exposure to household air pollution, figures from the World Health Organisation show. This is more than the number of people dying from AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis combined. Women and girls are particularly at risk.

Speaking at Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Future Summit in New York, Baroness Northover called on the private sector to step-up their commitment to creating a commercially sustainable global market-place for clean, efficient and affordable cooking devices. She announced that the UK is to support the development of the sector to help prevent people developing illnesses such as pneumonia, strokes, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

The support will help to improve the quality and performance of cookstoves, unlock much-needed new investment and provide information about the dangers of cooking with dirty fuels.

The Department for International Development has today also signed a letter of shared intent with Marks & Spencer to help women and girls access clean energy and improve their health. This forms part of a wider partnership agreement between the two organisations to work together on shared priority themes including economic development.

Baroness Northover said:

Millions of people are needlessly dying just through the basic act of cooking. Only by generating easy access to affordable, clean and efficient cookstoves will this end.

A thriving commercially viable market-place is vital to deliver the sustainable and universal access to clean cookstoves and fuels needed. With 2.7 billon people relying on open fires and traditional biomass stoves to cook their food, the market potential for change is huge and the impact we can have on people’s lives is just as big.

Women and girls in developing countries can spend hours each day collecting firewood to cook on potentially taking them away from the safety of their homes. This is time they could spend at school or at work earning an income for themselves or their families.

Notes to editors

1 The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Future Summit is binging together leaders from across the international community to galvanize efforts to address the deadly issue of household air pollution. It seeks to mobilise and secure financial and in-kind commitments to invest in the market and transform the way the world cooks.

2 DFID and Marks and Spencer plc have agreed a partnership to develop a strategic relationship, building on existing contacts between the two organisations. The partnership will explore opportunities in East and southern Africa, and south Asia.