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Charcoal and forest management could reduce greenhouse gas levels & save lives in Africa

enhouse gas emissions, with over 15 billion tons of carbon released into the atmosphere by 2050. "Most charcoal is produced in Africa by one or two guys going out in the woods, almost always without a permit and on somebody else's land, cutting down a tree or two, chopping it up, lighting it, covering it with dirt, and then hovering around it for 2-4 days while it becomes charcoal," Kammen said. "It's no surprise it's not generally a high-efficiency operation." The authors found that by creating the technological and policy tools for transitioning to higher efficiency charcoal production technologies and sustainable harvesting, like those used today in Brazil and Thailand, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 45-66 percent.

The researchers conclude that helping African nations make the transition to clean charcoal without drastically increasing pollution and decimating tropical forests would be an excellent way to achieve several of the United Nation's "millennium development goals," among them reducing child mortality, and ensuring gender equity and environmental sustainability, and to invest in development of the African continent as promised at the 2005 World Economic Forum and the recent G-8 summit. Ezzati said, "This study shows that choosing energy technologies with an eye toward improving health and quality of life in one of the world's most impoverished areas offers us opportunity to significantly reduce premature deaths, especially among women and children."


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Contact: Kevin Myron
kmyron@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-3952
Harvard School of Public Health
31-Mar-2005


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