Billions of people use traditional renewable energy (wood, charcoal and dung) to cook in and heat their homes. These traditional methods create serious health and environmental hazards, leading to renewed efforts to bring cleaner, more efficient stoves to people around the world but particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia where poverty is highest.

Through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and voluntary markets, carbon finance is emerging as an attractive option to help scale-up cookstove projects. However, there is little understanding of how carbon-financed projects can help transform markets.

This article begins to fill that gap by examining the role of carbon finance in cookstove projects in Kenya. Data was gathered through a review of project design documents for carbon-financed cookstove projects in Kenya and 26 interviews with stakeholders in the cookstove sector.

The analysis shows that carbon finance can help build a vibrant market for improved cookstoves by attracting international actors and technologies, helping establish standards for monitoring stoves and facilitating better follow-up and after-sales support. However, the authors highlight risks, such as potential mismatch between cheap and efficient technology and meeting user expectations and preferences. The study shows the need for further research on impact of carbon finance on improved cookstove project implementation across a broader range of contexts.

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