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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Maximizing climate and health benefits in household energy carbon credit projects Freeman, Olivia Esther


‘Improved’ cooking technologies, which in general are cleaner burning with higher levels of complete combustion, greater efficiency and better heat transfer then less-efficient cooking technologies, have been generally understood in the global community to be a ‘win-win’ development intervention creating a multitude of benefits. Yet as in most environment-development efforts there are many unacknowledged tradeoffs that exist under the all-encompassing ‘win-win’ claims. In this study tradeoffs made between two co-benefits of cookstove projects, climate and health, are examined under the framework of carbon financing mechanisms. Two methodologies used to calculate carbon credits for cookstove projects are compared, the Gold Standard method and the Clean Development Mechanism method. Different carbon credit scenarios are evaluated for how they compare to estimated health impacts when switching from a traditional biomass stove to each of the other ten alternative stove-fuel combinations including three basic improved biomass stoves, two gasifying biomass stoves, two coal stoves, one charcoal stove and two liquid fossil fuel stoves. Tradeoffs between the maximization of co-benefits were found to exist, with carbon credits inherently accounting for climate benefits, but not health. The three stove types achieving the highest levels of co-benefits were the two liquid fossil fuel fueled stoves included in the analyses, kerosene and liquid petroleum gas, and a more technologically advanced gasifying biomass stove with a battery powered fan. Yet they were also the most expensive and the fossil fuel stoves were treated very differently in the two methodologies, creating a diffusion barrier to achieve the highest maximization of co-benefits. The Gold Standard methodology consistently calculated more carbon credits than the Clean Development Mechanism, largely due to its inclusion of methane emissions in its calculations. Including black carbon emissions in theoretical carbon credit calculations also significantly increased the number of credits calculated. If accounted for in such equations this could greatly increase the amount of income earned per project as well as change how such projects are designed and approached due to the large increase in potential credits calculated. As health and other development benefits are not inherently included in carbon credit calculations, in order to achieve ‘win-win’ outcomes, deliberate decisions about project design need to be made to ensure such objectives are actually met and not simply assumed.

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