An estimated 90 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population depend on firewood and charcoal for cooking. Governments seek to make ‘modern’ cooking technologies accessible to their people. However, such energy transitions will take significant time, resources and cultural shift. In the meantime, woodfuels will continue to play an important role in the energy mix.
Suggesting woodfuels could even be a sustainable and modern energy source is a hot topic. They have the negative reputation of being a dirty fuel, ‘low-tech’, an energy source of the past. A shift in perception is needed to act on political, investment and regulatory interventions.
Let’s talk about Woodfuels at the Side Event “The Hottest Topic in Forestry: How can we make Woodfuels more Sustainable?” on Monday, 7 September 2015, 12:45-14:15, Room 11B.
This event wants to create awareness to how woodfuels contribute to forest degradation and that options in policy and practice are available to make woodfuels more sustainable. Speakers are Mary Njenga (ICRAF), Ina Neuberger (World Future Council), Wanjira Mathai and Mercy Karunditu (Green Belt Movement). The event is moderated by Esther Mwangi (CIFOR).
A focus will be on charcoal. Charcoal is threatening to turn into the biggest driver of deforestation on the continent. Greening the charcoal value chain can potentially allow nations to meet their energy commitments for cooking and heating methods in the medium term in a sustainable manner while smoothing the way for a gradual transition to ‘modern’ cooking technology.
Through a holistic approach, charcoal can be made a sustainable and affordable transition fuel. We must begin to talk more about charcoal, not as a fuel on it’s way out, but rather as a fuel with the potential to transform lives today while protecting our forests.
Blogpost by Ina Neuberger (World Future Council) – ina.neuberger(at)worldfuturecouncil.org
Picture courtesy Simon Wilkie (Namibia)