Gold Standard helps make projects that distribute clean cooking technologies financially viable, primarily through certifying GHG reductions, and now through RBF around health and gerder impacts.
What is the Gold Standard, and how has the organization contributed to the growth of the clean cooking sector?
The Gold Standard develops standards that allow projects all over the world to quantify, certify and maximise their contributions to climate security and the Sustainable Development Goals. In the clean cooking sector, Gold Standard helps make projects that distribute clean cooking technologies financially viable. Projects calculate the reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that result from the improved technologies, which we certify and then issue a carbon credit for each ton of CO2 reduced. These credits can be sold to companies looking to make a positive impact on the climate, alongside the many other development outcomes that clean cookstoves deliver. This creates an additional revenue stream to support the ongoing operations and expansion of the program. To date, we have issued more than 18 million credits for cookstove projects.
Your organization developed the Gold Standard for Global Goals, which is a standard to help climate efforts contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Can you describe this work and the opportunity it can bring to the sector?
Finance from carbon credits was a critical first step in helping make clean cooking projects more financially sustainable. Now with the new version of our standard, Gold Standard for the Global Goals, cookstove projects can certify their outcomes beyond the climate impact. Now they can generate new streams of funding using a similar approach, often called "results-based finance" or "payments for performance." For example, on top of the GHG reductions, a project can now certify its contributions to improved health outcomes, which local governments or private foundations might be interested in supporting. The same could be true of contributions toward gender equity, poverty reduction, the protection of biodiversity, and much more. In 2017, we worked with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves on a study to assess the market potential for certified SDG impacts and continue to collaborate on new approaches to drive funding to the sector. In fact, readers can already help support a clean cooking project by purchasing carbon credits to offset their own GHG footprint, from driving or air travel to everyday electricity usage, at our project marketplace.
The Gold Standard operates at the nexus of climate finance and clean cooking -- what is the most striking lesson you have learned while working in this space? What are some promising developments that have come about in these sectors?
The most striking lesson to those outside this sector is that improvements to something as fundamental and quotidian as cooking can be so transformative – having a positive impact on potentially all the Sustainable Development Goals. For businesses looking to make the greatest impact with their climate action, this message seems to be catching on. In 2017, we saw over half a million more credits purchased than were issued in the year – showing increasing financial support for clean cooking projects from the private sector.
Some of the most promising developments we see for the future center on major gains in efficiencies. We see great potential in reducing the complexity and costs of certification with new technologies. We have developed a new tool called CookstoveIQ, which helps proponents working on the ground to streamline project development and certification processes. Internet of Things (IoT) technologies like remote sensors can dramatically reduce the complexity and the legwork involved in monitoring cookstove usage, sending real-time data to project developers and auditors. Blockchain technology can enable direct peer-to-peer payments from funders to project participants, among other advances. These developments can help break through some of the current barriers to scale and enable clean cooking to realise the breadth of its untapped potential. It makes this a very exciting time to be in the clean cooking space.