Project Developer Forum Responds To New Study Claiming 9.2 Times Over-crediting Of Clean Cookstove Projects

Project Developer Forum Responds To New Study Claiming 9.2 Times Over-crediting Of Clean Cookstove Projects - Carbon Herald
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As clean cookstove projects have been critical in the development of sustainable practices in developing countries, they are also receiving attention and scrutiny over their integrity and accurateness of emissions reductions. A recent study published in Nature Sustainability conducts a comprehensive quantitative, quality assessment of carbon credits from cookstove projects, concluding massive overestimation of emission reductions.

The study called Pervasive over-crediting from cookstove offset methodologiesfinds misalignments of key factors like fraction of non-renewable biomass, firewood-charcoal conversion, stove adoption, stove usage, and fuel consumption and estimates that the cookstoves project sample it uses is over-credited 9.2 times. The paper compared five cookstove methodologies with published literature and the team’s own analysis. 

Relevant: “Cookstoves Reduce Charcoal Use By 40%” – Susanna Berkouwer, Assistant Professor of Business Economics & Public Policy

It also claims that Gold Standard’s metered methodology, monitoring directly fuel use with cookstoves, is most aligned with the authors’ estimates, ending up in projects being over-credited just 1.5 times. The analysis provides recommendations to align methodologies with current science and SDG progress.

In response to the paper’s findings, the Project Developer Forum – a collaborative association of companies and practitioners, developing and financing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction projects, has published its stance, highlighting shortcomings and voicing its concerns. 

According the Project Developer Forum and non-member carbon project developers who support the response, the errors with the analysis are as follows: 

  • The reference literature is outdated, and the study omits recent peer-reviewed randomized control trials.
  • Conclusions about carbon cookstove projects cannot be drawn from research focused on non-carbon financed projects.
  • The research consistently chooses the most harmful scenario as its point of comparison.
  • The analysis applies outdated fNRB default values.
  • The study overlooks ongoing improvements to cookstove carbon methodologies.
  • Project data was not validated in consultation with project developers.
  • The study reflects a misunderstanding of the process of carbon project validation and verification.
  • The funders and author of the study have a conflict of interest and bias.
  • The study disregards the constraints of the disadvantaged populations who are most helped by improved cookstove interventions.

As the forum indicates, the analysis uses outdated studies of cookstoves projects. It uses 9 studies, 7 of which were published before 2016, omitting recent research such as two recent peer-reviewed randomized control trials (from 2022 and 2016). According to the forum, the study claims adoption rate of cookstoves by households of 58% while a recent randomized controlled trial of 1,000 households in Nairobi found a sustained adoption rate of 86% three years after distribution of the stoves.

Relevant: New Study Suggests Carbon Credits From Cookstoves Are Worthless

The response also claims that the research paper draws conclusions from non-carbon financed projects, and donated or NGO-distributed projects, i.e. a mud stove project conducted in India in 2005 – 2007. Many such projects have been experiencing persistent problems with poor design, and often lack sufficient funding to ensure rigorous monitoring after the stove is installed. 

The forum claims that the conclusions from such NGO projects are not relevant to contemporary cookstove carbon projects that are capable of reducing fuel use by up to 90%. 

A detailed outline of the key issues claimed by The Project Developer Forum can be found here.

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