Cooking Carbon Credits with Integrity

Dr Shaun Conway
The ixo Journal
Published in
4 min readJan 27, 2024

Over-crediting of Clean Cooking Projects

A new scientific study published in the journal Nature Sustainability Research, reports that there has been massive over-crediting of carbon emission reduction claims made by projects that help emerging economy households to switch from polluting to clean energy cooking. The study comes amid intense scrutiny of the unregulated voluntary carbon market, with concerns that many schemes are producing huge amounts of worthless carbon offsets.

From May to November last year, figures from the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project show cookstove projects issued the most new credits in the market, comprising about 15% of the total, which implies that considerable amounts of financial capital which should have been directed into effective climate responses is not having the intended impacts.

This news recently hit the mainstream news, with Mail & Guardian reporting that “cookstove projects are probably overstating their beneficial impact on the climate by an average of 1,000%”, and the Financial Times headlining: “Carbon credits from cookstove emissions largely worthless, study finds”.

Giving credits where credit is due

However, the UC Berkeley researchers who conducted this scientific research have found five projects stand out as exceptions, by meeting their high quality standards for clean cooking interventions. In their Guidance for Buyers the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project define high-quality projects as those that use technologies achieving World Health Organisation health targets, with carbon emission reduction claims that are scientifically measured, reported and verified. Our Emerging Eco Platform is one of these.

Emerging Eco brings integrity to clean cooking carbon credits

Developed by ixo in partnership with Emerging Cooking Solutions, and with independent validation by Prospect Energy, our platform for crediting clean cooking is recognised by the Berkeley team as one of the few globally that meets their stringent, research-backed standards. Access to this platform is now being scaled within Zambia and across Africa, with a mission to enable millions of households to make the green transition and get the benefits of modern energy cooking, aiming to save a billion tons of carbon emissions by 2035.

The digital platform, built and operated by ixo, implements cutting-edge blockchain technology and AI, to create ‘digital twins’ of cookstoves that have IoT sensors to monitor real-time usage. This data enables transparent and verifiable tracking of stove usage and fuel purchases for each device. Prospect Energy’s independent validation of fuel purchase transactions further enhances the credibility of this data as it triangulates actual customer mobile money payment data with their pellet purchases and validates only sales that can be backed by actual payment data.

Digital Carbon Credits and Certification

Digital carbon credits are produced in near real-time through this platform, at a fraction of the cost of traditional Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) systems, in a way that is fully transparent, auditable, and trustworthy. These digital products are made accessible to anyone who has a smartphone, enabling them to directly contribute to the green transition, offsetting their carbon footprint in a way that is engaging and rewarding.

Built on a credible Gold Standard methodology

Foundational to the success of this platform is that it builds on the Methodology for Metered and Measured Modern Energy Cooking Devices, published by the Gold Standard Foundation. A Causal AI model underpins the system to automatically and scientifically evaluate each digital claim against a robust theory of change that is tested against counterfactuals. For instance, if a family starts using more fuel and increases their emissions — referred to as rebound, this is detected and not credited. The Emerging Eco digital MRV platform assures emission reductions are not only genuinely achieved, but also benefiting the families who make the switch to clean cooking.

“The Emerging Eco platform’s great attention to measuring the actual usage of the stove eliminates one of the largest sources of errors. By using renewable biomass pellets, sourced from waste products from plantations, we minimize environmental impacts. Our stoves, fuelled by these pellets, demonstrate exceptionally low emissions in independent laboratory testing. This also contributes significantly to preventing the risks of lung diseases that are associated with traditional cooking methods”. Mattias Ohlson (CEO of Emerging Cooking Solutions)

Innovative business models that are made possible with digital technologies, using blockchain and AI, to finance access to affordable modern energy cooking technologies and renewable biomass fuels, represent a beacon of hope and a model for future carbon offset projects. The Emerging Cooking Solutions clean cooking projects in Zambia, using the ixo Emerging Eco platform, illustrate the potential for accurate, transparent, and sustainable practices in the practice of carbon crediting.



Dr Shaun Conway
The ixo Journal

Seeker of serendipity. Inventor of the ixo Protocol for The Internet of Impact.