[Stoves] Re: Is this Off Topic?? Fwd: Re: [Biochar] Where to discuss STOVES AND CARBON offsets and drawdown


I have not heard the word eschatology since I was a student in a theological seminary in the late 1960s.   Definition from Synonym.com:

1. eschatology (n.)

the branch of theology that is concerned with such final things as death and Last Judgment; Heaven and Hell; the ultimate destiny of humankind

Very appropriate choice of words as atmospheric CO2 levels rise and could well contribute to (what you wrote):.

  to turn the whole planet into a verdant garden‎ of delight.

But probably not “delight”.   More like a “hothouse garden eventually supporting less than half the number of the world’s current population” (which means the end of standards of living as known today, but maninly suffered through environmental disruption, war, famine and disease inflicted on our descendants, unless drawdown is accomplished.)

Your implied comparison between opinions by contemporaries of witches in the 1600s and current opinions of scientists in the 2000s is a bit of a streach.    I’ll interprete that as an attempt at humor.  🙂

[NOTE:   I EXPECT that this message will unfortunately be taken as proof that this Subject is “Off Topic” for the Stoves Listserv.  Sorry.  I am looking for a place to take this conversation, but with emphasis on the pro-action about carbon drawdown, not the lamenting and gnashing of teeth aspects of eschatology.  ]


On 9/12/2017 4:48 AM, Crispin Pemberton-Pigott wrote:

Dear Nikhil
Doesn’t Sujatha’s project making char while cooking and selling it to a foundry to reduce coal consumption ‎fall into your definition? That is specifically CDM funded to offset a fossil fuel in current use. 
An additional point missing from your cogent analysis is that increased CO2 emissions decrease the need by plants for water resulting not only in a higher growth rate, but extending the water supply. The only specific number I have for that is ‘dry lands’ (Sahel etc) ‎showing that for each 1% increase in CO2 concentration there is a soil moisture increase of 0.68% because the vegetation is more water efficient. 
Nowhere in the calculus of releasing CO2 from all sources is this general greening included. ‘Sustainable’ implies ‘static and no worse’ whereas other terms could be used such as ‘net beneficial’. 
The idea that we are somehow tasked to ‘keep nature static’ is misplaced. We could just as easily take our role to be to turn the whole planet into a verdant garden‎ of delight. ‘Nature’ is much more capable and resilient than is generally taught, and so are we. 
Carbon trading is essentially selling indulgences inspired by climate-based eschatology. ‎ In the 1600’s the consensus held it was all the fault of witches. 

We can do better…



I wonder where you have seen stove projects financed by “carbon credits based on fossil fuel offsets.” I am not aware of any. 

To my knowledge, CDM and voluntary carbon projects are for reductions in CO2 and other qualified GHG emissions WITHIN THE PROJECT BOUNDARIES as approved by either the inter-governmental authorities (CDM) or self-proclaimed authorities (Gold Standard). 

There is no specific requirement that the GHG emission reductions come from changes in fossil fuels use, UNLESS such use is in the “baseline”. I know of no such stove project, though I would very much like to see one – e.g., improved coal heating stoves Asia or South Africa. 

When the baseline – existing and future use in absence of the intervention – is only biomass, the requirement I am aware of is that reduction in CO2 (rather, all Kyoto gases) emissions have to be adjusted for fNRB – “fraction Non-Renewable Biomass:” If biomass fuel use within the project boundaries is currently deemed to be “renewable” or “sustainable”, it is assumed to be “carbon-neutral”. 

This is an anti-poor, irrational requirement. It leads to all kinds of gaming and discourages or eliminates carbon finance for “efficient biomass stoves” projects. But this is the irony of IPCC calculus – biomass is assumed to be renewable, so fuel emissions from biomass are to be reported not in the emissions inventories but only in LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Changes, and Forestry) if they lead to deforestation. 

I would be more than happy to generate opposition to this ideological decision by IPCC, that is then followed under CDM. It does not matter where the CO2 absorbed by new vegetation comes from — fossil fuels or biomass fuels. Similarly, the CO2 emission reduction by lower biomass use should not be deducted for some presumed “renewable biomass fraction” (i.e., 1-fNRB). 

It is now nearly 30 years since AES Corporation around here created an offsets project by investing in a Guatemala forestry project to offset the emissions from its coal or gas power project in Connecticut. (How a forestry offset project in Guatemala allowed emissions in the USA to increase, REDD-Monitor 9 October 2009. That was a valid “fossil fuel offset” project, though as the REDD-Monitor piece concludes,

For at least the first ten years of the AES-CARE project, emissions from the power plant vastly exceeded the carbon sequestered in the AES-CARE project. At the same time, CARE diverted resources from poverty alleviation to carbon monitoring. Given that the project had been running since the 1970s it’s is difficult to see how the project could possibily be considered to be additional. In effect AES wrote a cheque which allowed emissions to continue.”
There were similar projects in the 1990s under bilateral initiatives such as USIJI (US Initiative for Joint Implementation), but after Kyoto became effective, such experimentation stopped. All official carbon credit projects (under CDM) and all voluntary carbon projects that I am aware of were simply based on emissions within project boundaries. 

Stove projects are relatively new, and as I discovered today from Ci-Dev, UK buys credits from stove projects and retires them (i.e., plain grants), while Sweden and Switzerland buy credits (based on fNRB) and uses them toward national commitments for GHG emission reductions. They would be hard-pressed to argue that it is only the fossil CO2 that they are using these credits against; there are non-fossil fuel GHG emissions in their national inventories. 

I come from the old school thought in science and law – before talking substance, get the process (incl. definitions) right.


Nikhil Desai
(US +1) 202 568 5831
Skype: nikhildesai888

On Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 11:35 AM, <tmiles@trmiles.com> wrote:



This topic is relevant. Several stove suppliers have made the investment in certification and third party verification of carbon credits based on fossil fuel offsets. If biochar is included it could provide additional benefits which we should account for even if there is currently little or no monetary benefit for carbon sequestration. Some stove suppliers have created carbon offset markets based on their own (sometimes internal) verification system for biochar and sold the “offsets” to voluntary contributors. If this is going to become a credible “voluntary” standard than the protocol for measuring and accounting for biochar must be consistent.