How Economist Innovation Award winner Envirofit uses carbon finance to distribute improved cookstoves

Envirofit, producer of improved cookstoves, recently won the The Economist’s Innovation Awards 2013. The prestigious award, which is in its 12th year, was presented to Envirofit in the category Energy and Environment for their development of technologies that improve indoor air quality in the developing world. Envirofit is developing improved cookstoves that reduce indoor air pollution, cut smoke and toxic emissions by up to 80%.

Envirofit is making use of carbon finance to distribute improved cookstoves at scale. In a partnership with South Pole Carbon and Perspectives, two multi-country improved cookstoves Progammes of Activities (PoAs) were developed, one focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa, and the second on West Africa. Both PoAs were successfully registered before the deadline of December 31st, 2012. That way, carbon credits from participating projects can be sold into the EU ETS.

At the same time, Envirofit is also supplying stoves for voluntary emission reduction projects. For a project in Kenya, Envirofit has provided improved cook stoves for 3775 households so far. Members of most households work at a nearby flower farm, which is fairtrade-certified. Through an innovative approach, this project brings together two ends of a value chain: a large European retailer sourcing flowers from the nearby farm purchases the majority of the generated carbon credits. Through this project, the retailer not only offsets the emissions resulting from the import of flowers, but also invests in improving the health of the workers on the farm. But apart from reducing indoor air pollution, the project also helps to reduce necessary firewood collection to only once per week, which in turn enables children to go to school more often and reduces the pressure on local forests. This kind of support for the community is directly contributing to a more sustainable supply of flowers. A true shared value for both the communities, as well as the retailer. This approach will serve as a showcase for many projects to come.

The following pictures show how excited the Massai were when they received their first batch of improved cookstoves. The village is difficult to reach by truck and it took the delivery team one full day on the road to deliver the stoves. When they finally reached the village in the evening, a long queue of people had formed, waiting to receive their stoves.