LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Clean cookstoves, power-generating windmills and reforestation projects deliver social benefits far beyond reductions in climate-changing carbon emissions, an internal study of projects certified by The Gold Standard has found.
In a look at 109 clean energy and forest projects around the world, all with emissions reductions measured and certified under the The Gold Standard label, economists found that cookstove projects produced $84 million a year in health benefits, in part by reducing exposure to coal, charcoal or firewood smoke, the Gold Standard Foundation said in a press release.
In addition, families participating in the projects saved $243 million annually on coal or firewood purchases, or the equivalent in time spent collecting firewood.
Windmill projects, similarly, saved countries that have installed them $100 million a year on fossil fuel imports, and created $12 million in salaries annually, the foundation said.
Altogether, the additional benefits beyond carbon emissions reductions, including ecosystem services and local employment, added up to more than a billion dollars over the life of the 109 projects, all of which are now completed, the study said.
Gold Standard certified carbon credits, launched in 2003 by the World Wildlife Fund and partners, are sold to individuals, companies and governments wanting to offset their own carbon emissions by paying to reduce emissions elsewhere.
The new look at environmental and social benefits from carbon reductions suggests that buyers of credits from everything from bio-digesters in China to water filters in Honduras are getting more for their money than reductions in climate-changing emissions.
“By being able to value critical outcomes, like improvements in health and employment, carbon credit buyers, funders and policy makers can better understand the big picture of what carbon finance can do when it’s implemented through the rigorous framework and auditing requirements of The Gold Standard,” said Adrian Rimmer, the CEO of The Gold Standard, in a press release.
The Gold Standard certifies nearly 1,000 projects around the world by a wide range of companies and organizations, including J.P. Morgan and a variety of non-profit organizations.
Samuel Mintz is an AlertNet Climate intern.