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Mitigate as much carbon and greenhouse gas as you produce.

Confronted as we are by the scope of environmental and social problems in the world, the question is, “What can I do?” or “Where do we start?” Many people will say to start in our own backyard, but for many that just doesn’t sound like enough. Global issues threaten us all and call upon us to rethink how we live and what we can do. The Kyoto Twist offers a solution that addresses two major challenges at once. The challenges are global warming and abject poverty. The solution is solar cooking.

A concept that is growing in acceptance and public awareness is the idea of becoming carbon neutral. It can apply to an individual, a family, a business, a festival, a corporation or any other greenhouse gas producing entity. Carbon neutral means simply that you are not a net producer of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases or that you mitigate as much as you produce.

The formulas and calculations to verify this are complex, but the principles are simple. We produce emissions when we drive, when we heat our homes, when we fly in airplanes or take the bus. We save these greenhouse gases when we reduce our energy use or switch to a cleaner energy source like wind or solar. Planting trees is another way to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. The Kyoto Accord introduced the concept of carbon offsets, built on the principle that emissions reduced or sequestered anywhere is as beneficial as doing this anywhere else, because they all go into the same global atmospheric envelope. So if you contribute to a solar cooker for a family in a developing country, you are not just giving them a better life, you are offsetting a portion of your own emissions.

The average Canadian produces 5.5 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. That is about the same as one person produces who cooks their food with wood or charcoal. A solar cooker can cook up to half of a family’s meals, saving them time and money and the atmosphere several tonnes of emissions. All the research and data is available to support these claims. You would be wise to verify the truth of them yourself, but if you simply want to help some families in need, we offer the three options below.

Option #1: donate to offset the emissions you produce

A well-designed solar cooker project, like the ones our organization sponsor, will reduce carbon emissions for $10.00 per tonne per year. Based on the 5.5 tonnes per year per capita for Canada, you could donate $55.00 to offset your emissions for one year.

Option #2: reduce and donate to offset your emissions

Reduce your own emissions as much as possible first, and then multiply the remaining emissions by ten dollars per tonne to achieve carbon neutrality. To do this you can use a carbon calculator to estimate your emissions.

You can also search the internet to find a carbon calculator to best suit your geographic area. It takes about twenty minutes to answer the questions and get your readout. The calculator then recommends ways to reduce your emissions and lower your score. You can go back to the site and check your progress as you make changes in your energy use or perform other reducing activities like planting trees or purchasing offset credits. For instance, your current emission estimate might be 4.2 tonnes per year. You could donate $42.00 to offset your emissions for the year. Next year when you have reduced your energy use, check your total emissions again and donate accordingly.

Option #3: make a charitable gift

Contribute what you can afford to help the Kyoto Twist deliver the resources to bring about the benefits we have mentioned above. Then follow our progress as we report about our projects and other developments in the coming years. You can contribute monthly or annually to help a family in the developing world, and it will.

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News and recent developments

  • 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.
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Participants at CEDESOL Hausa Rancho, Bolivia solar cooking training.

  • February 2011: New beginnings in Hausa Rancho - Nine CEDESOL staff members traveled to the community of Hausa Rancho to deliver 30 solar cookers to the participants in a project sponsored by the Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society. Hausa Rancho, a location with ample sunlight, is located 90 minutes outside the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. The Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society subsidized the cost of the solar cookers, and through outside funding from supporting agencies and organizations, CEDESOL is able to further subsidize the solar cookers it sells. Each cooker costs 560 Bolivianos. The original production cost was 1,600 Bs. With this compounded subsidization, each participant pays only 200 Bs to receive a solar cooker, and afterwards participates in five training sessions held every two to three weeks over the course of three months. The staff members arrived mid-morning to begin setting up the cookers, which would be used to prepare lunch for the community, demonstrating the possibilities of solar cooking. The preparation of the meal took around two hours, and participants were amazed with the results, and were enthusiastic to begin using the solar cookers themselves. In coming months, training sessions will be held to further educate the participants on the capabilities of the cookers. Following the training period, the community will keep the solar cookers, with the expected results of lowered carbon emissions, safer cooking methods, and cleaner lives.
  • February 2011: CEDESOL founder, David Whitfield participates in the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Forum in Lima, Peru - His attendance at this event represents an unparalleled opportunity for CEDESOL, and it has been possible thanks to the help of the Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society, who funded a major portion of the cost of this participation. The forum will provide CEDESOL with the opportunity to network with myriad organizations, establish connections, and represent CEDESOL and its cause as viable potential future recipients of aid and funding from the many donor organizations that will be present. In particular, CEDESOL is interested in pursuing a partnership with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, an organization which collaborates with other foundations, agencies, and organizations to overcome the economic hurdles that impede the mission of providing solar cookers to the developing world. With the many projects, new and ongoing in 2011, and as we continue to grow and expand, this funding is essential to further our efforts and advancing our vision to reach more communities and empower more families. While the objective of acquiring funding is imperative, the PCIA Forum also offers CEDESOL an interesting role in the Bolivian solar energy campaign itself. As one of the leading organizations providing ecological cookers in Bolivia, CEDESOL also has the opportunity and responsibility to represent the advancements made in Bolivia, essentially acting as one of the faces and representatives of the movement within the country at this international assembly. Additionally, as the producer of a leading model of ecological cookers, Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society recognized that CEDESOL holds an important responsibility to be present at this forefront of solar energy technology. A CEDESOL 2-burner Rocket Stove was transported by bus and installed at the conference, and demonstrated impressive results.
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.
  • December 2009: Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society is working with KoZon Foundation and Association of Women Engineers (AFIMA) to introduce solar cookers in the Yirimadio neighborhood of Bamako, Mali. In 2009, 30 families paid a small fee (US $3) for two CooKit solar cookers that were made by AFIMA, one cooking pot, one large insulated basket (Nafa Saba) for heat-retention cooking, and a Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI). The cooking kits are subsidized by Kyoto Twist donors. AFIMA women selected project participants based on desire to learn a new method of cooking, enthusiasm for reducing use of charcoal cooking fuel, and willingness to attend meetings. The Women Engineers collected data on the use of charcoal before and during the project, and will follow up after a year to assess overall charcoal use and savings. They receive a wage for their work interviewing and selecting the participants, training, and holding support sessions. KoZon Foundation assisted with project planning and data collection. Kyoto Twist estimates that the project will: reduce charcoal use by 30% (360 kilograms per family per year); save each family about US $80 annually; and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 3.2 tonnes per family per year. The project cost about US $4600 in 2009.
  • April 2007: The Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society (KTSCS) continues its efforts to raise funds for solar cooking projects that reduce poverty in sun-rich, fuel-poor countries while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (The “twist” part of the name comes from the idea that those living in wealthier nations can change, or twist, their priorities and lifestyles to better share limited resources with those most in need.) KTSCS works with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have solar cooker experience and a proven track record in countries where solar cookers are an appropriate technology. NGOs can request an application packet for consideration of funding. Project structure, recipient family selection parameters, training procedures, and follow-up services must be described in detail. To track the effectiveness of the projects, and to provide accountability to its donors, KTSCS will track the success of recipient families, their financial savings due to solar cooker use, and their greenhouse gas emission reductions. KTSCS funded its first pilot project in November 2005. The group that received funding -- Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT) -- has worked in Haiti for over 15 years and has experience conducting solar cooker projects. “The Spirit of the Kyoto [Protocol] is international cooperation on what is now being called the biggest challenge mankind has ever faced ¬ massive and rapid climate change,” states the KTSCS Web site. “At an average cost of ten dollars per tonne, donating to KTSCS is an effective way to help make a difference. Cooking fires in the world today consume an estimated one billion cubic meters of wood or biomass annually, which produces an estimated one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Those are easy figures to remember and very significant in the mitigation of global warming.”

Articles in the media


The Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society is based in British Columbia, Canada.

See Jack Anderson.

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