How climate action improves lives in climate project host countries

How climate action improves lives in climate project host countries

May 14, 2024

How climate action improves lives in climate project host countries

Disadvantaged groups in poorer countries are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This makes it even more important to involve people all around the world in climate action. This can be achieved through climate projects that not only reduce, avoid, or remove greenhouse gas emissions, but also improve the lives of local people.

How are social impact and climate action connected?  

In addition to creating positive change for the climate, certified climate projects support sustainable development in the project countries, for example by improving the supply of clean drinking water, developing local infrastructure, or creating jobs. The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a globally recognised benchmark for measuring these positive impacts. 

ClimatePartner's climate projects always contribute to SDG 13 (climate action) by reducing, avoiding, or removing emissions, but they also contribute to other goals. For example, improved cookstove projects avoid emissions because the new cookstoves use less fuel than traditional cooking methods. They also improve indoor air quality and therefore people's health, additionally contributing to SDG 3. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about one third of the world's population uses unsafe cooking methods that are harmful to health and the environment. This results in more than one billion tonnes of carbon emissions every year, or 2% of total global emissions.

An example from India

One example of a climate project with profound co-benefits is the Garo Hills cookstove project in India. The project was developed by ClimatePartner's subsidiary ClimatePartner Impact and supports the Garo people in the Indian state of Meghalaya. Like many rural communities in India, the Garo cook indoors over open fires. This is harmful to both the environment and people's health: open fires are extremely inefficient, as much of the heat is lost unused, and they require large amounts of firewood or charcoal. 
The Garo collect nearly 5 tonnes of firewood a year from surrounding forests. Instead of continuing to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, the felled trees release environmentally harmful emissions when burned. On top of this, the smoke produced indoors is a health hazard – especially for women and children, who traditionally spend more time at home. According to the WHO, an estimated 3.2 million people worldwide died from domestic air pollution in 2020.

woman carrying wood

The Garo Hills project addresses these challenges: in Meghalaya, 15,000 cookstoves have been distributed that are more thermally efficient than conventional cooking methods. Depending on the model, this reduces fuel consumption by up to 50% and saves around 200,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over five years. The reduced need for firewood means less deforestation in the region, helping to preserve forests as carbon sinks and home to many animal and plant species. The Garo people, especially the women, also benefit, as they spend less time collecting firewood and are less exposed to harmful smoke.

"Women in low-income countries are often disproportionately affected by climate change, as they are less protected due to poverty, inadequate education, and limited freedom of choice. There is therefore an urgent need to ensure the involvement of women in climate action measures. Some climate projects are initiated and led by women for women – an important message and a great step forward for the affected communities. We need more female empowerment and are therefore particularly proud that certified climate projects can often achieve both: the commitment to urgently needed climate action and the targeted support and empowerment of women to achieve great things."

Leonie Nazemi, Head of Sourcing and Portfolio Management, ClimatePartner 

The Garo Hills project in India is designed to be long-term, transparent, and collaborative. The following measures contribute to this:

  • All project data are recorded digitally for accuracy, credibility, and efficiency.
  • Project staff visit participating households every six months to collect feedback, e.g. how much firewood families are saving, how often they use the new cookstove, and how often they still use previous cooking methods.
  • The project has a network of local communities whose engineers provide support for several years to maintain and, if necessary, replace faulty stoves.
  • The improved cookstoves are manufactured in India, creating local jobs.

Continuous further development, also through scientific dialogue

"International climate finance based on certified climate projects is an effective and proven mechanism to contribute to climate action, but also to fight poverty and inequalities. The majority of projects take a holistic approach, aiming not only for short-term effects but for long-term benefits. Climate projects are often also development projects with a different financing mechanism, and improved cookstove projects are particularly effective. In addition to reducing emissions, these projects contribute to better health and a better economic situation for households. These improvements often only materialise over a period of time, but it is very motivating to be able to make such a necessary contribution."

Robin Stoffers, Managing Director, ClimatePartner Impact 

It is important to continuously improve the quality of climate projects. The methodologies of international standards (such as the Verified Carbon Standard and the Gold Standard) are regularly updated, considering feasibility, practicality, and current research findings. Critical studies provide valuable input for further development.

We should work together to ensure that the voluntary carbon market functions as effectively as possible. This is important to limit the effects of global warming, both on the climate and on the people who are most affected by it.

“We are noticing that in addition to climate action, social aspects are becoming increasingly relevant when it comes to companies' voluntary commitments. The desire to do more – for the planet and its inhabitants – is growing in people's minds. And for many companies, social impact is an additional argument for investing in a project. Companies often have a great deal of leverage in this decision and can thus contribute to creating additional benefits for local populations.”

Eva Rössler, Head of Corporate Communications, ClimatePartner 

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