Sierra Club


To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth;
To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources;
To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.

Organization Type Non-Governmental Organization

Contact Information

Primary Contact
Mr. Stephen Mills
Secondary Contact
Mr. Justin Guay
Address Sierra Club
408 C Street, NE
Washington, DC
United States
Phone 202-547-1141
Fax 202-547-6009
Calling/Fax Instructions

Our Focus

Primary Initiatives, Target Populations, and Scope of Work:

The Sierra Club is collaborating with India's Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) to study the current usage patterns and in-field efficiency of biomass cook stoves in three districts of Gujarat, utilizing surveys of local households, a controlled cook stove workshop, and an assessment of the manufacturing capabilities of local artisans for the production of the stoves.

Fuels/Technologies: Coal
Sectors of Experience: Energy
Renewable Energy
advocacy, civil society engagement
Countries of Operation: India
United States

Our Experience And Interest In The Four PCIA Central Focus Areas

Social/Cultural barriers to using traditional fuels and stoves:

Approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide and over 800 million people in India use biomass stoves for domestic cooking. The majority of these users have traditional, inefficient biomass stoves, which contribute to a number of problems associated with their use:
• Indoor Air Pollution (IAP) claims the lives of 1.5 million people worldwide and around 400,000 people in India annually. This makes IAP the third highest risk to human health in India, after malnutrition and water-related diseases.
• With 3 billion kg of biomass fuels being consumed daily, cook stoves are responsible for over 15% of global CO2 emissions.
• Deforestation resulting from an increased demand for biomass fuel is causing forests in developing countries to shrink by more than 15 million hectares per year. The global ratio of forests-to-people is less than half of what it was in 1960.
• Women and children invest a significant amount of time collecting forest wood and buying charcoal for fuel. Using improved cook stove technology, this time could be spent on productive activities such as schooling, thereby easing some of the social issues that exist in India.

Implementation of improved cook stove technology will reduce the quantity of CO and NOx emissions by 80%, and decrease the amount of fuel required for cooking by 40%. This will significantly improve the air quality for women and children that are forced to breathe toxic emissions from traditional biomass stoves on a daily basis. A single improved cook stove is capable of reducing GHG emissions by 1.5tCO2e compared to a traditional stove. With a further reduction in the emissions of black soot, the positive externalities derived from improved cook stoves cannot be understated.

Market development for improved cooking technologies:

SEWA has been experimenting with improved cook stoves since 1986, and has undertaken various initiatives over the years. One of its earliest initiatives involved a partnership with JEDA to develop a brick and mud stove – a model that was cheaper than the stoves used by households at that time. The stove constituted a chimney that let the fumes outside the house thereby keeping the indoors cleaner. SEWA also trained some of its members in the construction and maintenance of these stoves, thereby creating a source of income for them.

SEWA’s next effort in cook stoves materialized after a partnership with SELCO. SEWA procured stoves from SELCO for its members. These stoves were an improvement over the brick and mud stoves, in the sense that they were movable and consumed less fuel. To facilitate easier uptake by its members, SEWA made available ‘energy loans’, wherein members (most of whom were from the Patan district of Gujarat) could pay a small down-payment and complete the rest of the payment through installments.

In 2008, SEWA partnered with the Rajasthan Agricultural University to develop and propagate a further improved cook stove. This was a cement and brick model, and improved upon the benefits of the previous stoves. Many households from the Vadodra district adopted these cook stoves.

In all, SEWA has encouraged as many as 1500 households to adopt the various improved versions of cook stoves and thereby realize significant health and economic benefits. A workforce of 8 grassroots members has been trained in the assembly, construction, upkeep and maintenance of these cook stoves.

It is SEWA’s intention to scale-up its efforts to cover a much larger segment of population.

Technology standardization for cooking, heating and ventilation:


Indoor air pollution exposure and health monitoring:

The Sierra Club/SEWA project aims to collaboratively assess the usage and efficiency of previously piloted cook stove models in Gujarat. The project will focus on the following main areas:

1. Understand current usage and efficacy of biomass cook stoves through a baseline survey to 1000 women in Gujarat:
• Type of stoves currently used: traditional and improved
• How the stoves are used: local diets and preferences
• Fuel consumption (and availability): type and the amount of fuel used
• Understand the market for improved cook stoves

2. Identify the contemporary cook stove technology that is:
• The most efficient in terms of fuel efficiency, emissions and ease of maintenance through in-field testing of existing stove models
• The most suitable to the domestic cooking scenario in the households of Gujarat

3. Investigate the local assembly and maintenance capabilities of artisans in order to produce the improved stoves

4. Create a framework for pilot of new/improved model of cook stove

5. Understand the economics of improved cook stoves:
• Affordability
• Types of financing available and possible
• Understanding the circumstances under which cook stoves would be self-financed, subsidised, or purchased using microfinance and a subsidy

Relevant Publications or Studies

None noted

Our Contribution to the Partnership

In addition to cook stove field testing with SEWA in India, the Sierra Club will develop and execute a multifaceted national and international advocacy campaign to address the contribution that clean cook stoves can make as part of a comprehensive greenhouse gas mitigation policy.