Cardboard cooker wins climate change prize

A solar-powered cardboard cooker is the winner of Forum for the Future’s Climate Change Innovation competition.

Kenyan-based entrepreneur Jon Bøhmer’s Kyoto Box – a simple construction from two cardboard boxes and an acrylic cover – claims to tackle both environmental and social issues on a number of levels.

Kyoto Box, which costs €5 (£4.50) to make, claims to reduce the need for firewood and, consequently, an estimated two tonnes of carbon each year.

As a result, health complications from smoke inhalation are reduced, while women are removed from their often dangerous obligations of collecting fuel. It will also enable families to sterilise unclean water by boiling.

The box – deemed low-cost with maximum impact – works by attracting and trapping heat from the sun. A layer of straw or newspaper between the boxes acts as insulation, while black paint inside and exterior foil help to preserve heat.

Kyoto Box was chosen from five shortlisted entries that included evaporating tiles, a low-carbon alternative to air-conditioning systems, designed by the UK’s Loughborough University; a lightweight aerodynamic cover for lorry wheels that reduces drag; and a feed-additive given to livestock to control flatulence, reducing methane production.

Business and sustainability leaders Jonathon Porritt, Leon Sandler, Eileen Claussen, Mark Hurd, Sir Terry Leahy, Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, Sir Richard Branson and Lionel Barber comprised the judging panel, who set out to identify innovations that can be developed and scaled up rapidly to make the greatest contribution to tackling climate change.

Bøhmer, a Norwegian, set up Kyoto Energy with his Kenyan wife Neema, and has used his own money to fund the project.

He plans to use the prize to conduct mass trials in ten countries, including South Africa, India and Indonesia, and gather data to back an application for carbon credits.

Bøhmer has developed a more durable version in corrugated plastic, which he says can be mass-produced as cheaply as the cardboard version. Carbon credits will allow the venture to be scaled up.

Bøhmer is planning a package of other affordable low-carbon products including a solar torch, which will be distributed for free on condition that families use them.

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