How carbon finance is making a difference – reaching out to community based renewable energy projects

In current debates on the transformation to a low carbon economy, sustainability is so strongly associated with renewable energy that the social and economic aspects of genuine sustainable development are drowned out. This is reflected in the nature of carbon offsetting projects that have highly stringent regulations to ensure high standard implementation of renewables. Social and economic impact is treated as an occupational hazard, tested superficially, if at all, in order to get the paperwork through.

There is much controversy questioning the ethics of offsetting with the common argument that it is reinforcing business-as-usual energy use in western countries and obstructing real change. Further controversies involve incidents of forced relocation of local residents as land for renewable energy projects is required and carbon funding used to implement energy efficiency regulations in what remain highly polluting new energy plants.
The critique of carbon offsetting is not without reason, but there is a need to also highlight efforts of organizations within the sector that aim to guide carbon funding in the direction of people working on projects that are making a difference in people’s daily lives, driven by a holistic and encompassing view of sustainability.

A good example is found in the Kolar district in Karnataka where villagers are replacing firewood and kerosene with renewable energy sources like biogas. Innovative biogas digesters made from locally available materials are being used in a project by a local NGO ADATS. Upfront funding for expected carbon credits provided by the French company Velcan made the initial investment available to implement the project, making the project feasible and creating a win-win solution for all involved. atmosfair now supports the project by buying carbon credits.

Now, atmosfair wants to magnify their impact by supporting more such initiatives. “We see a high need as well as great opportunities for sustainable energy projects inIndia, especially community-based projects. We would like to transform our current support for projects in India into a more direct involvement by extended partnering with institutions who are working on the ground,” says Robert Müller from atmosfair.

Atmosfair is taking action from their side, now what we need is people stepping up that are doing the wonderful work on the ground. If you know anyone, or you yourself are working on community based renewable energy projects in India, and are looking for additional support to make your project feasible, get in touch & apply for the atmosfair India Renewable Energy Innovation awards! Deadline is this Sunday, March 27th!

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