Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Carbon Euro of the Developing World


Standard International Carbon Micro Credit (SICMC) = 2 kilograms of CO2

SICMC = MicroCO2 = mCO2 = myCO2 = myCO

The Carbon Euro of the Developing World

International NGOs should agree to an international standard for Carbon Micro Credits (CMCs) and promulgate it for uniform worldwide use. A SICMC could be defined as follows, for example:

For normal sustenance in the Developing World the average human being requires 1,100 food calories, which requires XYZ BTUs (British Thermal Units) to cook with biomass, which if offset by cooking with solar means NM kilograms of CO2 are not emitted into the atmosphere because XY kilograms of biomass were not burnt.

NM kilograms of CO2 would then be the unit of measurement used to quantify produced CMCs worldwide. I guesstimate a SICMC would be around 1,800 - 2,000 grams/day of CO2 -- so let's say exactly 2 kilograms.

A recent article in WIRED magazine said producing a Big Mac (540 calories) results in the emission of 4.7 lbs of green house gases (GHG), or very close to 2 kilograms again. Diets in the Developing World are obviously not so energy intensive as beefy Big Macs, but the SICMC rule of thumb above is probably close to the true figure.

Once a SICMC was defined and agreed to worldwide by accreditation and auditing agencies/companies and NGOs, then auditing of solar cooking-based or Uganda stove-based CMC projects would be greatly streamlined. It would be highly ridiculous to try to quantify and audit the CMCs produced person by person, or family by family, or project by project in the Developing World.

Depending on the market price of a ton of carbon, a CMC is worth only about 3 - 5 cents. For a family of 5 in the Developing World it adds up to 15 - 25 cents/day. Us rich folks in the Developed World should let the Poor living on a dollar a day make an extra 15 - 25 cents per day without auditing them excessively. People have to eat and have to cook. They won't not cook and not eat to scam the system.

Moreover, in many parts of the Developing World the landscape has been denuded of natural biomass, leading to cooking with dried cow dung, among other highly-polluting carbon sources. The scarcity of naturally-occurring and easily available carbon/fuel sources means the average family spends 20 - 50 % of their daily income on imported manufactured fuel such as charcoal or propane. Hence, again, participants in a CMC program are highly financially incentivized to follow the rules and cook with solar or their Uganda stove.

In sum, I call here for NGOs worldwide to take action to define, standardize, promulgate and support the SICMC. Such NGOs would include the:

United Nations / UNICEF
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
World Bank
European Commission / European Union
Asian Development Bank
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
National Wildlife Federation
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and
many others.

Once a Standard International Carbon Micro-Credit (SICMC) is defined as 2 kgs (for example), then it is simple to calculate the market value of 2 kgs of CO2 (3-5 cents), and then convert this to equivalent cell phone minutes (1 - 5 minutes..?).

The number of cell phone minutes will vary by carrier and depend on local economics, but this is fine. Most people in the developing world transact business or call locally. But the SICMC could become the financial lingua franca or the Carbon Euro of of the Developing World, especially in Africa where most mobile carriers transact business in multiple countries.

Globally & warmly yours,

David Palella
Caped Carbon Crusader

San Diego, CA
tel: 858-793-0741