Carbon Financing of Household Water Treatment: Background, Operation and Recommendations to Improve Potential for Health Gains. Env Sci Tech, Oct 2014.
Authors: James M. Hodge and Thomas F. Clasen. Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, United States, e-mail: email@example.com
Household water treatment (HWT) provides a means for vulnerable populations to take charge of their own drinking water quality as they patiently wait for the pipe to finally reach them. In many low-income countries, however, promoters have not succeeded in scaling up the intervention among the target population or securing its consistent and sustained use. Carbon financing can provide the funding for reaching targeted populations with effective HWT solutions and the incentives to ensure their long-term uptake. Nevertheless, programs have been criticized because they do not actually reduce carbon emissions. We summarize the background and operation of carbon financing of HWT interventions, including the controversial construct of “suppressed demand”.
We agree that these programs have limited potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that their characterization of trading “carbon for water” is misleading. Nevertheless, we show that the Kyoto Protocol expressly encouraged the use of suppressed demand as a means of allowing low-income countries to benefit from carbon financing provided it is used to advance development priorities such as health. We conclude by recommending changes to existing criteria for eligible HWT programs that will help ensure that they meet the conditions of microbiological effectiveness and actual use that will improve their potential for health gains.