Yes, two of the trendiest ethonomic concepts of the last 10 years–carbon credits and microfinance–have finally merged. Carbon Manna Unlimited announced yesterday a cell phone-based Carbon Micro Credit system in the country that will allow residents to claim carbon offsets produced by using efficient cooking methods. Instead of using open-pit fires to burn biomass, families are encouraged to experiment with solar cookers and charcoal stoves.
Here’s how the program works: Pre-selling bundled Carbon Micro Credits provides capital for cell phones and efficient stoves. The offsets are crowd-sourced by participating families via text messages, and regular audits will attempt to check that families have, indeed, switched to the lower-carbon cooking methods, ensuring the validity of the carbon offsets.
Each family can claim 3 tons of CO2 offsets each year–worth about $20 to 25. Combined with potential fuel savings of $70 to $150 each year, residents–many of whom live on less than $1 each day–have a strong incentive to participate.
Carbon Micro Credits will become available to residents of East African, West African, and South African countries later this year and in 2010.