Here’s betting you’ve never heard of one of the world’s top ten killers: indoor air pollution. Every day roughly 3 billion people around the world cook and heat their homes by burning biomass such as wood, crop waste, and dung without proper ventilation, and, according to the World Health Organization, the resulting toxic air accounts for a staggering 1.6 million deaths a year — one death every 20 seconds. Indoor air pollution is five times more lethal than outdoor pollution, and its effects range from pneumonia (especially in children) to lung cancer and tuberculosis.
The solution is clean-burning stoves, and a sustainable business plan to get them where they’re needed. Enter the Shell Foundation, an independent UK-based charity established by Shell Group (RDS) in 2000. The foundation is partnering with Envirofit, a four-year-old nonprofit with ties to Colorado State University’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, to develop, market and distribute new clean-burning stove technology.
Envirofit’s market plan does not rely on donating or subsidies; rather, it relies on consumer-focused market mechanisms to drive demand. The Shell Foundation, itself business-focused, has committed $25 million over five years to bring 10 million clean-burning stoves to the market, with an initial focus on India.