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The charcoal transition: greening the charcoal value chain to mitigate climate change and improve local livelihoods- new FAO report just launched

Charcoal has been an important source of energy for centuries and remains so today; projections indicate that demand will continue to increase, especially in Africa. In many countries, however, a lack of regulation means that the charcoal sector is inefficient and can have locally and nationally significant adverse impacts on forests. Globally, the woodfuel sector is a substantial emitter of greenhouse gases, estimated at up to 7 percent of total anthropogenic emissions.

Charcoal produced using sustainably managed resources and improved technologies, on the other hand, can be a low net emitter of greenhouse gases, with the potential to reduce emissions by more than 80 percent along the charcoal value chain, thereby helping to mitigate climate change. A greener charcoal value chain can also increase access to cleaner energy, reduce health risks associated with rudimentary stoves and generate sustainable income for poor rural people.

This report is both timely and urgently needed. Based on a comprehensive analysis of the latest data and empirical evidence, it sets out a transformational pathway for greening the charcoal value chain, thereby supporting sustainable livelihoods and providing energy security, especially for the world’s poor. Targeting the entire chain – sourcing, production, transport, distribution and use – is a key to success.

The report presents policy options for creating a climate-smart charcoal sector, such as developing national policy frameworks for the sustainable management of the charcoal value chain; reforming land tenure and increasing resource access to attract new investments in a greener, healthier charcoal value chain; and making the charcoal value chain a specific component of nationally determined contributions to the mitigation of climate change.