In an unsettling new study, researchers from the University of California Berkeley suggest that carbon credits generated from cookstoves are largely flawed.
The peer-reviewed paper was published on Tuesday and is alarming for several reasons, one of which is the significant share of cookstove carbon credits in the larger voluntary carbon market (VCM).
Namely, roughly 20% of all carbon credits issued on the VCM are from cookstoves, representing a massive share. And 40% of these credits were reviewed by the researchers, who, in turn, found them to have avoided 9.2 times fewer CO2 emissions than claimed.
The study is yet another blow to the market’s credibility, although it has already seen some pushback from proponents of the VCM.
Two major carbon registries in particular criticized the paper and questioned its fairness.
Verra noted having “substantive concerns” about the study and said it is currently developing a new and improved methodology that reflects “current best practices of project design and implementation in distributed thermal energy generation.”
Gold Standard, in turn, pointed out that the research did not reflect the VCM at large, although it did acknowledge the issue of carbon credits in general estimating the amount of CO2 emissions removed or avoided, as opposed to measuring them at source.
Cookstove carbon credits are among the fastest-growing project types on the VCM and buyers include multinational energy companies like Shell, airlines British Airways and easyJet, as well as large utility companies, such as Germany’s Eon.
Easyjet issued a statement in response to the study saying the company has stopped purchasing carbon credits as a means of meeting sustainability goals, while British Airways responded by saying offsets and removals are still an important part of its decarbonization strategy.