For an improved cookstove project, the baseline scenario is what would occur in the absence of the project. Usually that means that households keep cooking with open fires or traditional cookstoves. The GHG emissions that occur under the baseline scenario are called baseline emissions. Any emissions reductions achieved by the project are calculated versus this baseline.
A credible and conservative baseline, with data based on field surveys or recognized published literature is required for the success of a cookstove carbon credit project.

The following parameters need to be determined to establish a baseline:

  • Annual average biomass consumption for traditional cookstoves in the project region – determined from historical data or surveys which measure local consumption
  • Fraction of renewable woody biomass (fNRB) in the project region – determined from historical data or survey of local usage (more details can be found below)
  • Efficiency of the traditional cookstoves which are to be replaced – this needs to be done to determine whether the baseline stoves are conventional/traditional or improved. If the baseline cookstoves are conventional/traditional, the thermal energy efficiency is assumed as 10% and if the baseline cookstoves are improved, the thermal energy efficiency is assumed as 20%;
  • Part of the target population using traditional stoves and willing to adopt the new technology
  • Sustainability Baseline – for Gold Standard projects: baseline scenarios for the parameters featuring in the Gold Standard Sustainability Monitoring Plan need to be established, along with suitable references and evidence.

Fraction of non-renewable biomass (fNRB)

fNRB is the fraction of woody biomass saved by the project activity in year y that can be established as non-renewable biomass using survey methods or government data or default country specific fraction of non-renewable woody biomass (fNRB) values available on the CDM website.

Applying a default value

The CDM has published a list of approved fNRB factors which cover most Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developed States. These default factors can be employed with no further need to demonstrate the source of figures.

Calculating your own value

If your project’s country is not included in the list you will need to calculate the fNRB. Annex 22 of EB 67 provides detailed guidelines of how to calculate the parameters needed to calculate the fNRB. This involves determining how much of the biomass used prior to the project (i.e. in the baseline situation) is renewable and how much is non-renewable, based on either:

a) National/local published data

National data about the amount of sustainably grown biomass and rates of firewood usage are available should be the foundation for calculating your own fNRB value. Good resources to obtain such data include:

  • FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000, Table 14 (to determine the growth rate of biomass)
  • 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Chapter 4, Table 4.9 (to determine the growth rate of above-ground biomass for different ecological zones)
  • FAO Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) 2010 Global Tables, Table 2 (to determine extent of forest), Table 6 (to determine extent of protected areas of forest) and Table 11 (to determine the annual change in living forest biomass).
  • 2003 IPCC Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (to determine the conversion rate of biomass).

It is recommended to use an Excel spreadsheet, or similar programme, for all calculations and to diligently record all sources of figures applied within the spreadsheet. This will speed up the validation process and facilitate timely registration of your programme. For an example of how fNRB has been established using published data, see the SimGas Biogas Programme of Activities.

b) A baseline survey

Conducting a baseline survey is also permitted to establish fNRB, but should also be supported by published data that show, for example, an increase in time spent/distance travelled in collecting fuelwood, depleting carbon stocks, increases in the price of fuelwood or changes in the type of fuel wood used (see Credibility Check section below). Although there is no guidance from the CDM Executive Board on how to determine the fraction of biomass that is non-renewable through surveys, this has previously been done by simply asking the target group ‘Does the fuel wood use come from non-renewable sources?’ Respondents can respond ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’ and the percentage of biomass that is non-renewable is based on the number of ‘yes’ responses received relative to the total number of responses. However, it is unlikely that fuel wood users can reliably state the fraction of biomass that they use that can be considered as non-renewable and this approach therefore risks being inaccurate.

Credibility check

Regardless of whether approach a) or b) outlined above are followed, in addition to establishing a concrete figure for fNRB you are also required to demonstrate that at least two supporting indicators exist out of the following:

  • A trend showing an increase in time spent or distance travelled for gathering fuelwood by users (or fuel wood suppliers) or a trend showing an increase in the distance fuelwood is transported in the project area;
  • Depleting carbon stocks in the area;
  • Increasing trends in fuel wood prices;
  • Trends in the types of cooking fuel collected by users that indicate a scarcity of woody biomass.

Whilst these can all be established via national or local statistics, these are not always available. In that case, a baseline survey is useful and the following indicative questions can be included:

  • Has the time you spend on gathering fuel wood a) increased, b) decreased or c) stayed the same over the last 5 years?
  • Has the distance you travel to gather fuel wood a) increased, b) decreased or c) stayed the same over the last 5 years?
  • Has the price of fuel wood a) increased, b) decreased or c) stayed the same over the last 5 years?
  • Has the type of cooking fuel you collect changed over the last 5 years? If so, how?

It is not necessary to conduct this credibility check if CDM default rates are applied.