Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Gaia Association at Copenhagen

Gaia Association won an Ashden Award in 2008 for their work with cookstoves burning bioethanol made from waste products. The stoves are often used in refugee camps.

Milkyas Debebe, their Managing Director, was at Copenhagen, where he was able to meet with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles:
Harry Stoves, who has worked with Gaia Association for some time, said:

As you know, Prime Minister Meles has been in the forefront of negotiations at COP15 and we have been very grateful for his efforts. He is championing, on behalf of Africa and the Global South, exactly the right things to make improved stoves and clean liquid fuels available in Africa.

He is asking for more technical and financial assistance for Africa to enable Africa to quickly reduce its Global Warming Commitment. Very possibly residential fires for cooking and agricultural fires for land clearing and preparation are the two largest producers of GHG, with deforestation being the other major contributor. The production of black carbon aerosols that reach the atmosphere and travel great distances may quite possibly be even more harmful that the production of GHG. Residential cooking fires and charcoal production and use may in fact contribute to 18% to 25% of black carbon in the atmosphere and this black carbon may have a higher GWC than other sources of black carbon production because of when and where this black carbon is produced. The alcohol stoves essentially reduce this black carbon to zero. Thus a million ethanol stoves in Africa could make a significant reduction in black carbon pollution from Africa, and this could have a swift and immediate impact on Africa's contribution to the problem.

Prime Minister Meles has charted out a carbon neutral strategy for Ethiopia, already a country that has one of the lowest carbon footprints in Africa (at least before black carbon is considered. He laid out Ethiopia's strategy in this way:

Ethiopia shall:

1. Produce all of its power from clean or renewable sources, principally hydro, wind, geothermal and solar.

2. Use liquid biofuels to reduce its dependence on petroleum fuels. It shall fuel blend, and is already doing so, and it will use biofuels for cooking.

3. Afforest or re-forest Ethiopia and reclaim the land with appropriately chosen grasses, bushy plants and trees. The Prime Minister highlighted the MERET program as one successful example.

After the Side Event in which the above photo was taken concluded, and which the Prime Minister chaired (having just come from a negotiating session), Milkyas Debebe was able to speak to him directly about the ethanol stove project. The Prime Minister clearly stated his full support for the project and indicated that it was intrinsic to the nation's strategy.

To paraphrase, he said to all at the side event: 'With or without an agreement at COP15, and with or without proper support from the more developed nations, we will do what is necessary in Ethiopia to reduce or eliminate our impact on global warming.'

This was very inspiring indeed.
Below is a recent film made about the work of Gaia Association:

And the 2008 Ashden Award film on their work:

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