How You Count Carbon Matters: Implications of Differing Cookstove Carbon Credit Methodologies for Climate and Development Cobenefits


Olivia E. Freeman, Hisham Zerriffi
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Scientific Publications
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The opportunity to apply for carbon credits for cookstove projects creates a source of funding that can be leveraged to promote the “win-win” environmental and development benefits of improved cookstoves. Yet, as in most environment-development efforts, unacknowledged trade-offs exist under the all-encompassing “win-win” claims. This study therefore compares different scenarios for calculating cookstove carbon credits, including comparing different types of stoves using different fuels, different methodologies and theoretical scenarios to account for a range of climate-relevant emissions. The results of the study highlight the following: 1) impacts of different assumptions made within carbon credit methodologies, 2) discussion around potential trade-offs in such projects, and 3) considerations needed to truly promote sustainable development. The Gold Standard methodology was more comprehensive in its accounting and generally calculated more carbon credits per scenario than the Clean Development Mechanism methodology. Including black carbon in calculations would be more reflective of climate-relevant stove emissions and greatly increase the number of credits calculated. As health and other development benefits are not inherently included in carbon credit calculations, to achieve “win-win” outcomes, deliberate decisions about project design need to be made to ensure objectives are met and not simply assumed.

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