In January 2020, Politiken, a news source in Denmark, published a series of articles under the banner "Climate Deceived" that reference a Gold Standard-certified project. In response, Gold Standard provides the following context and clarifications.
The journalists visited an improved cookstove project in Kenya developed by CO2balance (GS824) that ended its Gold Standard certification in mid-2017. They spoke to a number of families that had received the new cookstove during the project activity and report that many of the interviewees claim to have used the new cookstove alongside traditional cooking methods (called "stove stacking"), used the stove and then discontinued use (“drop off” rates), or in some cases claim to have never used the stove because they preferred the speed and cooking results of their traditional three stone fires.
Though these types of feedback from users are typical of improved cookstove projects and Gold Standard's methodologies take them into account, Gold Standard and its official certification provider SustainCERT note that the journalists’ findings about project participants past stove usage are not consistent with the project's official monitoring results, which were conducted by the project proponent and then checked and verified by an experienced validation and verification body (VVB), including through a site visit. If these findings can be corroborated conclusively, the project would be a material non-conformity to Gold Standard rules.
Gold Standard initiated Step 1 of the grievance process in January 2020 and used these findings to feed into a planned review of the Gold Standard cookstove and safe water access project pipeline and methodologies. This review is in process and any relevant findings or updates to rules or methodology guidance will be published in due course.