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Linking household energy to local and global environmental change : understanding impacts of clean cooking interventions in rural India Singh, Devyani


Almost 40% of the global population relies on fuelwood to meet their daily cooking energy needs, accounting for over 50% of all wood extracted in many developing countries. This dependency can have negative impacts on forest stocks and climate change, and is not expected to decline without a major change in current polices. Consequently, there is a need for improved understanding of fuelwood dependency to both inform the transition to cleaner cooking solutions and for sustainable management of local forest resources to ensure supply for dependent communities in the interim. This requires a careful analysis of the long-term management of local forest and agroforestry resources, the particular fuel collection habits of local populations, and the impact of new cooking technologies and fuels on fuelwood consumption. However, understanding biomass extraction and its impacts on forest resources remains under-developed in comparison to demand-side issues of fuelwood consumption. I fill these gaps by first tracking household fuelwood collection behavior in two regions of India. The patterns indicate that fuelwood collection is a function of both socio-economic drivers and the resource base, and collection is not evenly spread out among villages. Next, I demonstrate the need to develop local level estimates of biomass renewability to isolate household fuelwood collection impacts on local forest resources. Then, I estimate the impact of cooking solutions on fuelwood consumption behavior and the circumstances under which households move away from forest fuelwood sources. Finally, I examine a national level transition to clean cooking in India over ten years, and conclude that it reduced pressure on forests and achieved modest climate change mitigation benefits with some uncertainty due to the extent of biomass renewability and inclusion of differing climate-forcing emissions. Overall, the dissertation elucidates the need for local level estimates to isolate household fuelwood extraction impacts on forests and climate change, and the need to carefully consider spatial scale and included emissions in future analyses and policy-making.  

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