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Quantification of Carbon Savings from Improved Biomass Cookstove Projects

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journal contribution
posted on 01.04.2009, 00:00 by Michael Johnson, Rufus Edwards, Adrián Ghilardi, Victor Berrueta, Dan Gillen, Claudio Alatorre Frenk, Omar Masera
In spite of growing interest, a principal obstacle to wider inclusion of improved cookstove projects in carbon trading schemes has been the lack of accountability in estimating CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) savings. To demonstrate that robust estimates of CO2-e savings can be obtained at reasonable cost, an integrated approach of community-based subsampling of traditional and improved stoves in homes to estimate fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, combined with spatially explicit community-based estimates of the fraction of nonrenewable biomass harvesting (fNRB), was used to estimate CO2-e savings for 603 homes with improved Patsari stoves in Purépecha communities of Michoacán, Mexico. Mean annual household CO2-e savings for CO2, CH4, CO, and nonmethane hydrocarbons were 3.9 tCO2-e home−1 yr−1 (95% CI ± 22%), and for Kyoto gases (CO2 and CH4) were 3.1 tCO2-e home−1 yr−1 (95% CI ± 26%), respectively, using a weighted mean fNRB harvesting of 39%. CO2-e savings ranged from 1.6 (95% CI ± 49%) to 7.5 (95% CI ± 17%) tCO2-e home−1 yr−1 for renewable and nonrenewable harvesting in individual communities, respectively. Since emission factors, fuel consumption, and fNRB each contribute significantly to the overall uncertainty in estimates of CO2-e savings, community-based assessment of all of these parameters is critical for robust estimates. Reporting overall uncertainty in the CO2-e savings estimates provides a mechanism for valuation of carbon offsets, which would promote better accounting that CO2-e savings had actually been achieved. Cost of CO2-e savings as a result of adoption of Patsari stoves was US$8 per tCO2-e based on initial stove costs, monitoring costs, and conservative stove adoption rates, which is ∼4 times less expensive than use of carbon capture and storage from coal plants, and ∼18 times less than solar power. The low relative cost of CO2-e abatement of improved stoves combined with substantial health cobenefits through reduction in indoor air pollution provides a strong rationale for targeting these less expensive carbon mitigation options, while providing substantial economic assistance for stove dissemination efforts.