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Clean Development Mechanism

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The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is a collaborative effort of nations growing out of the Convention on Climate Change (Rio, 1992), extended in 1995 in Berlin, and finalized into action in Kyoto in 1999. From 2000 onward, the CDM has functioned as a framework for cooperation between developed countries that need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and developing states, some of which are engaging in work to reduce emissions, literally around the world.

Nations providing financial support to those activities, even if not within their borders, are granted "credit" towards meeting their own emission-reduction goals. Only a portion of the required reduction of states party to the Kyoto Protocol can be met in this way, and strict criteria apply. The mechanism has substantial potential for the solar cooking movement. To take advantage of this opportunity, promoters must become substantially more knowledgeable about the potential, and the steps necessary to initiate such agreements. U.S. citizens are disadvantaged here in a sense, since the U.S has not chosen to sign the Kyoto agreement and hence American manufacturers have no legal obligation to reduce emission, (though common sense - and certainly most environmentalists - suggest they should be doing so anyway).

Most significant solar cooking projects

Solar Cooking in China, SHE report photo, 1-9-13

Residents in northwestern China using their parabolic solar cooker

  • January 2013: Large-scale use of solar cookers in northwestern China shows promise - Solar Household Energy has tracked the Chinese government's efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the region, because in rural China the predominant fuel for cooking and heating is usually coal. The government has utilized the carbon credit trading program of the Clean Development Mechanism to encourage investors to become involved, and results have proven to support a profitable business model. At this point, it is estimated over two million people are benefiting from receiving and using 500,000 parabolic solar cookers. The thermal efficiency of the solar cookers averages 65% compared with 12.3% for traditional unimproved coal fires. It is estimated the solar cooker use has reduced emissions equivalent to taking 200,000 automobiles off the road. Manufactured at a unit cost of $44USD, the cookers are locally manufactured, require no externally sourced parts, and components are recyclable. For those who perceive solar cooking as happening only at a village level, this report confirms that solar cooking continues to grow as a valuable resource to significantly help reduce global carbon emissions. Read more details of the report at: Solar Cooking in China: A CDM Project

News and recent developments

Solar Cooking in China, SHE report photo, 1-9-13

Residents in northwestern China use their parabolic solar cooker.

  • January 2013: Large-scale use of solar cookers in northwestern China shows promise - Trish Sheehan, with Solar Household Energy, has tracked the Chinese government's efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the region, because in rural China the predominant fuel for cooking and heating is usually coal. The government has utilized the carbon credit trading program of the Clean Development Mechanism to encourage investors to become involved, and results have proven to support a profitable business model. At this point, it is estimated over two million people are benefiting from receiving and using 500,000 parabolic solar cookers. The thermal efficiency of the solar cookers averages 65% compared with 12.3% for traditional unimproved coal fires. It is estimated the solar cooker use has reduced emissions equivalent to taking 200,000 automobiles off the road. Manufactured at a unit cost of $44USD, the cookers are locally manufactured, require no externally sourced parts, and components are recyclable. For those who perceive solar cooking as happening only at a village level, this report confirms that solar cooking continues to grow as a valuable resource to significantly help reduce global carbon emissions. Read more details of the report at: Solar Cooking in China: A CDM Project
  • November 2011: Kyoto Twist Update - Jack Anderson reports that for the past six years the Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society has been supporting small projects in Mali, Haiti, Tanzania, Bolivia and most recently Madagascar. Today I will summarize some of the results we have tabulated so far. Most of our partners have years of experience before we make contact. They already know what works well in their communities. We add a layer of fuel use monitoring in order record fuel savings over the first year of cooker use. The data is collected at monthly follow up meetings that are required. The women have been selected carefully to begin with, but we support this important peer connection and learning aspect. Here is a summary of some of our findings: It has cost an average of $198 USD per family to supply, train, monitor and administer these small projects (30 to 100 women in each of our 14 projects). The average cost for a family to own and use the cookers provided, which usually includes a retained heat cooker and/or improved biomass stove is around $20USD per year. Conventional fuel saving after one year averages between 40 and 50 percent. Greenhouse gas reduction, based on IPCC default factors alone is between 2 and 6 tons annually. Financial savings vary by country and type of fuel, but are in some cases as high as 30% of disposable income.
  • November 2011: Discussion on not continuing CO2 credit procedures at Solar Cooking Netherlands (SCN): From 2007 to 2009 SCN was actively involved in arranging CO2 credits for the women who earn these credits through the use of Integrated Cooking Method appliances that the Solar Connect Association (SCA), and SCN provided in projects in Uganda and also in Ethiopia. SCN dealt with professional consultants, non-governmental development organizations, all actively involved in CO2 trading and business markets. SCN also initiated a field elaborate CO2 survey, data mainly collected by SCA all to the rules and regulations required. SCN, Arnold Leufkens , and Clara Thomas discussed this with Patrick Widmer at the Solar Cookers International (SCI) Sacramento office. We exchanged our views with P Widmer and suggested that SCI would possibly be in a better position towards the UN organizations (Kyoto) to establish a uniform international standard in procuring CO2 credits for Integrated Cooking projects world wide. The SCN board finally decided not to continue CO2 credit procedures for the following reasons:
  1. CO2 credits are in fact earned by the users of ISSC/ Solar Plus appliances; any assurance that the actual credit earnings are paid back to these users could not be given.
  2. In a social business approach women fabricate solar cookers, insulated hay baskets and other fuel-saving cooking appliances themselves. This is another reason to let them have the credits earnings.
  3. The procurement (charges by consultants, accountants, banks and agents) are usually excessively high.
  4. SCN is a foundation working with volunteers and funded by many private donations. Activities are exclusively focussed on starting up and implementing Integrated Cooking projects and promoting the establishment of small enterprises. Any financial business risk or high costs in dealing with CO2 credit projects are beyond the financial capacity of the foundation.


  • December 2010: Offsets for Darfur: is an initiative designed by SENSE Foundation to target both environmental issues and support the Solar Cooker Project - an ingenious solar delivery and training program for Sudanese refugees in Chad based camps delivered and facilitated by Solar Cooker International, Kozon and Jewish World Watch. The benefits of "Offsets for Darfur" are twofold with both environmental and humanitarian aid aspects including the mitigation of: • carbon output in Chad refugee camps, • health issues related to firewood cooking. • women's safety issues related to sourcing firewood outside of camp boundaries • and unemployment in refugee camps - the project offers training and employment opportunities within the camps. More Information on the program.
  • December 2010: Carbon offset foundation partners with solar cooking project in Madagascar. The Swiss non-profit foundation, MyClimate, is a leader when it comes to voluntary carbon offsetting measures. They have recently partnered with Association pour le Développement de l’Energie Solaire (ADES), another Swiss non-profit, that manufactures and distributes solar cookers in Madagascar. The CO2 offsetting mechanism offered by MyClimate will enable the expansion of the initial ADES project, and growth into other provinces of Madagascar. Their projection over the next seven years, is to distribute up to 44,000 solar cookers and 8,600 energy-efficient supplementary cookers to realize a reduction of up to 190,000 tons of CO2.
Kyoto Twist card

Former slaves in Mali, these women have found new hope with the help of the Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society

  • November 2010: Jack Anderson, Program Coordinator for the Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society, reports that 2010 has been a productive year. Including the implementation of four new projects in three countries: Bolivia, Tanzania, and two in Mali. Working in areas where deforestation is extreme, their efforts have focussed on introducing the Integrated Cooking approach, which includes using a solar panel cooker, heat retained cooking basket, and an efficient wood/charcoal stove when necessary.
  • April 2010: World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth - Thousands of grass root organizations, politicians, intellectuals, scientists and individuals will debate about climate change next week, April 19th-22nd, in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Discussion will include black carbon emissions and the practical solutions that are available to tackle them.Conference Information...
  • August 2008: For many years, Fundación EcoAndina has promoted the concept of solar villages in Jujuy province. Among its accomplishments is the distribution of over 250 solar cookers for family use, 23 solar kitchens for community use, and a number of solar water heating and irrigation devices. Fundación EcoAndina recently partnered with WISIONS, an initiative of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, to “develop a strategy for the optimal use of carbon credits to make solar equipment affordable for the users.” The initial step is to use new technology to monitor 50 solar cookers in a field test and assess their CO2 reductions. According to its Web site, Fundación EcoAndina hopes to “develop local human capacity to handle the carbon market,” and to “build an effective incentive structure for the correct and constant use of solar applications.”
  • November 2007: Jakarta officials plan to reduce kerosene consumption by distributing 30,000 parabolic solar cookers as part of a Clean Development Mechanism project, according to a recent Jakarta Post article by Adianto P. Simamora. The pilot phase of the project will take place in Kepulauan Seribu (Thousand Islands) regency, where sunshine is plentiful. As reported in the article, “Jakarta consumes about 2.7 million liters of kerosene a day. A family using one liter of kerosene per day emits two tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year.” Kerosene is available to consumers at a state-subsidized price of Rp. 2,000 per liter (about $0.22). “The solar cookers will be provided for free by German company EnerXi GMbh to support the city’s attempts to take part in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project,” writes Simamora. Through CDM projects, developing countries can earn Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) based on the resulting amount of CO2 reduction. (One CER is equivalent to one ton of CO2.) To help meet Kyoto Protocol targets, developed countries can then purchase CERs from developing countries. According to the article, the price of one CER is between $5-10. The article is available on the Jakarta Post Web site at http://www.thejakartapost.com/yesterdaydetail.asp?fileid=20070523.C04

Articles in the media

NGOs employing carbon credits in solar cooking projects

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