The Making of a ‘Charismatic’ Carbon Credit: Clean Cookstoves and ‘Uncooperative’ Women in Western Kenya


Wang, Yiting, and Catherine Corson. 2015. “The Making of a ‘Charismatic’ Carbon Credit: Clean Cookstoves and ‘Uncooperative’ Women in Western Kenya.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 47 (10): 2064–79.

Authors: Yiting Wang, Catherine Corson


The Kyoto Protocol under the United Nations Convention on Climate Change first legitimized state-to-state carbon trading in 1997 with the goal of cost-effectively reducing carbon emissions. Voluntary carbon markets for private trading have emerged since, often claimed by their proponents to pioneer innovative projects that reduce poverty as well as carbon emissions. We use the case of a cookstove project, financed by the carbon emissions reductions generated when rural Kenyan women switch from traditional to energy-efficient cookstoves, to illuminate the complex process through which ‘charismatic’ pro-poor carbon offsets are produced. We highlight the role of women's labor in creating the initial carbon emissions reductions, which then become tradable virtual commodities through a series of studies to measure and verify the associated carbon savings, as well as the signing of a contract that transfers the property rights to the verified savings from the stove user to an international nonprofit carbon credit developer. We argue that, while introducing some improvements in cooking time, smoke level, and labor, the improved cookstove carbon offset ultimately constitutes a gendered, ongoing accumulation by decarbonization that, by securing the means of future wealth that could be generated from the project for investors in the Global North, marginalizes rural Kenyan women.

Keywords: cookstoves, gender, carbon trading, foreign aid, Kenya

Topics: Development, Economies, Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Women, Infrastructure, Energy, International Law Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2015

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