[Stoves] Fallout from ProPublica piece on the $75 m boondoggle

Jock Gill jock at jockgill.com
Mon Jul 16 05:51:34 MDT 2018


Crispin,

I remember this project a bit. I tried hard to get TLUDs and biochar on the agenda.  The Sec. At the time was an old personal friend. To no avail. 

I was also of the opinion that the goals were unrealistic and totally under funded.

So I walked away.  Pyrolysis and biochar are still under valued and very poorly understood. The root problem appears to be an unwillingness to face up to the requirement that we have to aggressively remove, drawdown,  excess CO2 from the atmosphere.  If we admit to the need for drawdown, then it is hard to avoid questions about how and why it got there.  In a sense, we allowed the negative consequences of CO2 to be treated as externalities. I would argue that climate disruption is the consequence of a massive market failure caused by pricing signals being severely corrupted by too convenient externalities. If we had priced CO2 accurately, we would not be in the nasty climate situation we find ourselves in. As you know, very large market failures are not supposed to happen. So bringing them up is seen by many as not only very inconvenient but also heretical. I am not confident we will find a way to remedy this market failure.

Just my two cents.

Jock

Jock Gill 
P.O. Box 3
Peacham 
VT 05862

Cell: 617-449-8111

Regenerate the Commons 



> On Jul 16, 2018, at 6:55 AM, Crispin Pemberton-Pigott <crispinpigott at outlook.com> wrote:
> 
> Dear Nikhil
> 
> Thank you for being engaged and observant. I wonder how on earth this story escaped the desk of the usual massage therapists. 
> 
> A couple of things:
> 
> The $50m was from the State Department as I recall. I have the correspondence. As do the Russians, apparently :).
> 
> It was $25m for GACC to get the pot cooking so as to attract more, and $25 for the DOE to be distributed by none other than Sam Baldwin, head of research, not so? The Nov 2014 Hillary-fest in NYC was to raise pledges from others, including USAID which a) hates stoves and b) mumbled something about money "pending budget availability" which it turned out not to be. 
> 
> I was a reviewer of five of the grants coming from the DOE's $25m so I believe that actually happened. ‎It was divided into two sorts: small and large hardware demonstrations and basic research to be done by national labs in the US. I researched who was able to apply for these and there is some law about the DOE not giving grants to foreign entities. It was therefore a surprise to find outsiders were able to apply for some, but they added, 'together with a local partner' so that covered it. A twist came later when non-US groups were permitted to bid on at least one large grant that may have been jointly administered by the DOE and EPA. That seems to have evaded the domestic organisation limitation, possibly through some EPA technical assistance grant route. Details are illusive because Sam was present so it involved the $25m but did not have the hitherto mandatory 'local partner' stipulation. 
> 
> The technique used by GACC was the same as Winrock's: create a 'network', get people to sign on as collaborators, and count anything they did as 'achieved' contributions to the global goals. Every stove I sell ‎counts towards the 1m goal, even now. 
> 
> Various funders showed up to join as board members and donors to GACC, with differing levels of engagement, some only on an earmarked fund basis. The World LP Gas Association was always involved. Clean cooking, right? No disagreement there. All LPG requires is subsidy. Look at the 'success' in Indonesia. 40m new users in two years, right?  
> 
> LP Gas sent a rep to participate in the writing of the South African paraffin stove standard, apparently intent on making it as complicated and expensive as possible. Every little bit helps, right? Well-burned kerosene is every bit as clean as well-burned LPG so it is more of a direct market share threat than miserable wood. What to do? Embed the 'dirty kerosene' meme into every moving pen starting in India, 1999. As late as 2015 I have seen this 'kerosene must be banned along with wood and coal' meme showing up in new advisory documents, "because it is just as inherently dirty"‎. This whole show is like a bad soap opera: lots of cunning. 
> 
> Ultra-clean coal combustion, finally admitted by the WHO in Lisbon a couple of months ago, ‎is carving a corner for solid fuels, at least for a while, until gas "inevitably" takes its place. (Never plan your programme on the basis that something is inevitable.) 
> 
> It turns out the evidence about clean biomass impact is not found for IAQ, but is easily found for coal! ‎ You have to admit that is sort of humorous given the AGW mania swirling around the sector. 
> 
> Paul Anderson's patient success, and Sujatha, who got shafted in the process (in my view) are rather easily brushed aside for not fitting the profile of the original vision. Plus, it is not gas, it is gasification. ‎Remember this is a State Department exercise fronted by the UNF. What do you think their interests are? Where hide the quids pro quo?
> 
> One has to be practical about these things. The State Department is going to spend its money on American contractors when it can. Consultants deliver what's in the contract. Cooperating organisations do the legwork with a little help from their friends. The ISO exercise tried very hard to deliver an EPA-based test method that ‎kind of, sort of, doesn't invalidate the WBT, hedged with some plausible deniability clauses, and there are of course, the 'tiers' without which LPG cannot claim to have special status. 
> 
> The spanners in the works are the super-clean burning TLUD gasifiers, both for coal and for wood, and the cross-draft coal burning cooking and heating stoves already multiplying without ‎GACC or the EPA. These are both technical advances not anticipated by Berkeley or the LP Gas Association. Both groups assumed they could rely on poor PM reports for all solid fuels ad infinitum. Throw in the biochar benefits and coal-based space heating IAQ gains, and the cauldron bubbles with unexpected opportunities. 
> 
> This probably wouldn't have happened without GACC, which brought a lot of attention to the 'cause'. ‎Could we/they have been more efficient? Of course, but there are agendas everywhere. With (real) globalism all but dead, the CAGW movement on the ropes, UN reform nowhere on the horizon, the need for international arbitrary power centres outside the Banks and Big corporations has never been greater. That, my friend, is not a problem, it is an opportunity. 
> 
> Regards 
> Crispin 
> 
> 
> THE WIN-WIN MIRAGE - A $75 MILLION ATTEMPT TO END INDOOR AIR POLLUTION ENDED UP SIDING WITH FOSSIL FUELS - AKSHAT RATHI, 
> Quartz, 14 July 2018
> 
> Quartz is a rather brash, pretentious webzine by and for millennials who have yet to grow up. It seems to have a wide readership and a big geographic footprint. So it is significant that one of its reporters picked up Sarah Morrison's ProPubica story on GACC and gave it this twist. 
> 
> The author supposedly has a PhD in Chemistry from Oxford and a BTech from ICT, Mumbai, but writes in the most facile manner:
> 
> " After spending many of those millions in grants to designers and academics, the alliance was able to offer some cookstoves but they hardly reduced particulate emissions ."
> 
> I don't know any evidence of GACC "spending many of those millions in grants to designers and academics." This is a canard. 
> 
> As is the claim, "some cookstoves but they hardly reduced particulate emissions ."
> 
> There is no evidence whether they did or did not. You can't argue that people didn't like the stoves enough touse them and that the stoves hardly reduced particulate emissions (except in the trivial sense).
> 
> The author then claims,
> 
> " Burning propane produces greenhouse gases, which will eventually accelerate climate change, but in the short term it cuts particulate pollution, which will have immediate benefits on people’s health.  "
> 
> He is illiterate. Kirk Smith and colleagues pointed out in 2000 that GHG emissions on useful energy basis are LOWER for propane than for uncontrolled woodfuel combustion, so long as all VOCs are also counted along with CO2.
> 
> Smith and his colleagues said "If one were to put carbon in the atmosphere anyway, CO2 is the least harmful of all species, from both climate and health viewpoints. The policy implications of this finding are profound."
> 
> Indeed. Amen.
> 
> The argument of fuel fetishists - renewable biomass versus fossil LPG (or fossil-fired electricity) - is facetious. No real cook gives a damn. There is too much individual-level optimization of food, nutrition, time, water, jobs, childcare, money going on in different contexts of time and space to bother with the beancounters of efficiency or GWP. (Besides, I would use 20- or even 5-year GWPs any day, to reflect poor people's discount rates. Not something stovers give any thought about."
> 
> GACC was fueled partly  by hubris, partly by cynical exploitation of Hillary's name. (I don't believe US government gave $50 m to GACC. Seems like another piece of sloppy reporting by Morrison.)
> 
> I wonder who picked the "100 million clean cookstoves by 2020" target. Jacob Moss? Leslie Cordes? Tim Wirth?
> 
> Back in July 2009, I was contacted by a consulting firm that had an assignment from "the Secretary's Office" to do a "feasibility report" on "1 million women entrepreneurs" to sell "100 million" - BUT, if I recall correctly - stoves AND solar LED lanterns. I was surprised then that it was not from USAID but from the Secretary's office. I laughed off both the targets for entrepreneurs and stoves, but suggested that 100 million solar chargers for lighting and phones was doable and desirable. 
> 
> Monies are spent. Not on designers and academics, at least not by GACC. By EPA, Winrock, who knows? For all its failures, GACC was designed to fail. No surprise that Radha Muthiah and Sumi Mehta have left. The rest have to fulfill the contracts and go for greener biomass.
> 
> Nikhil
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
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> 
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Nikhil Desai
> (US +1) 202 568 5831
> Skype: nikhildesai888
> 
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