Greening Charcoal Value Chain Crucial in Mitigating Climate Change

Global charcoal production is set to continue growing immensely considering that of all the wood used as fuel worldwide about 17 percent is converted to charcoal hence a call for greening charcoal value chain.

The Production of charcoal is evident majorly in informal settings with up to 40 million people generating income from the business globally for its wide use in cooking and heating.

Greening of charcoal’s value chain is continually called for based on its ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The use of charcoal and fuelwood is attributed to 1-2.4 Gt CO2e of greenhouse gases emitted annually which is about 2-7 percent of global anthropogenic emissions.

A green charcoal value chain involves the efficient and sustainable sourcing, production, transport, distribution, and use of charcoal. Its aim is to improve human well-being and social equity while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. This is vital considering closing in on the energy poverty gap as most rely on it as a source of energy.

The charcoal value chain can undergo greening at all levels from wood sourcing and carbonization to transport, distribution, and end-use efficiency. This is an essential step in addressing climate change as temperatures soar globally and impacts alarmingly become overwhelming from heat waves to floods and droughts. By greening, charcoal is enabled to have a low-carbon footprint, resource-efficient production, use of sustainably sourced wood, and social inclusivity.

Higher demands for this fuel source are notably available among urban populations and enterprises. Despite the effects of these biomass fuels like forest degradation and deforestation and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions along the normal charcoal value chain, it’s important to note that when charcoal is produced using inefficient technologies, its emissions are lessened.

Cited overdependence on this source of fuel is mainly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Southeast Asia, and South America highlighting the levels of energy poverty globally. However, through the adoption of sustainably managed resources and improved technologies, charcoal is a low-net emitter of GHGs, thereby could help not only mitigate climate change but also increase access to energy and food as it provides income-generating opportunities.

In the race to address, and reduce GHG emissions, world leaders affirmed an urgency in climate change mitigation in the 2015 Paris Agreement by leveraging actions in new commitments that intend on reduction of emissions.

These expressions have been vastly mentioned and outlined in nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – referring to biodiversity protection and land-use measures like restoration. Although to this effect it’s crucial to note that opportunities for emission reductions in the charcoal sector are not well reflected in NDCs despite a great potential in the greening of the charcoal value chain that would be valuable in mitigating climate change and addressing an immense energy poverty.

Based on a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, themed greening charcoal value chain to mitigate climate change and improve local livelihoods, there’s a need to embrace technologies for increasing the efficiency of charcoal production and use, the costs and benefits of greening the charcoal value chain, and policy options for a climate-smart charcoal sector.

It assesses the potential contributions of a green charcoal value chain to climate-change mitigation and improved livelihoods to inform policy-makers and other stakeholders.

Leave a reply