Clean cookstoves movement gets hand from Julia Roberts

Actress Julie Roberts is teaming with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to bring inexpensive solar or propane cookstoves to ill-equipped kitchens in the developing world.

The campaign is meant to help reduce the near 2 million deaths a year attributed to cooking over unsafe or inefficient stoves that burn charcoal, wood or other material and send toxic smoke into the lungs of whomever is near. According to, indoor air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death in the developing world.

“I am proud to stand with Secretary Clinton to work to reduce the senseless and preventable deaths," Roberts said in a statement. Most of those killed are women and children, she said.

Solar cookstoves were one of the main attractions at the at Fresno Earth Day celebration April 30 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno. Demonstrators baked cookies (I ate one) and cooked other dishes. Thermometers showed temperatures as hot as any gas or electric oven. Very interesting.

Roberts said she first learned of the issue while interviewing Clinton for a program, “Extraordinary Moms,” to air on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Roberts joins the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves as Global Ambassador.

The alliance says it is technology and fuel neutral and promotes "solutions that are as clean and efficient as possible." Some of those stoves are simple solar cookers that capture the sun to cook food. Others use propane, kerosene or other fuels but don't vent the CO2 and smoke into the home.

In her new role, Roberts will join with Clinton, the United Nations Foundation and other partners to try and meet the Alliance’s goal of getting clean and efficient cookstoves into 100 million homes by 2020.

Clinton announced the Alliance on Sept. 21, 2010.

The Alliance is a public-private partnership of more than 60 national governments, UN agencies, private companies and nongovernmental organizations working to overcome "market barriers that currently impede the production, deployment, and use of clean cookstoves in the developing world."

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