The greenhouse gases spewed out during the production of charcoal in developing nations may warm Earth's atmosphere more effectively than would the carbon dioxide generated by the burning of fossil fuels, according to new research. That's the case even though charcoal is made from wood that removed globe-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it was growing.
Many parts of the world, especially some in Africa and Southeast Asia, use charcoal-fed fires for heating, cooking, and industrial processes. For example, 9 percent of the energy consumed in Kenya comes from charcoal. In Brazil, almost 40 percent of the wood gathered for fuel ends up as charcoal destined for the pig iron and steel industries.