Wood Energy Catalogue

Dispelling common misconceptions to improve attitudes and policy outlook on charcoal in developing countries


The study presents five commonly held myths about charcoal that are perpetuated by different stakeholders and actors in the sector: 1) Charcoal is an energy source for the poor; 2) charcoal use is decreasing; 3) charcoal causes deforestation; 4) the charcoal sector is economically irrelevant, and; 5) improved charcoal cook stoves reduce deforestation and GHG emissions.

Using a review of the literature and own experience with charcoal research and practice, the authors proposed reasons for the existence of these myths, why they are highly disputable, and the consequences that the myths have had on policy and intervention responses to charcoal.

The authors argued that widespread beliefs of these myths have and continue to misguide policy response and intervention approaches relating to charcoal and proposed some policy and research recommendations to curb further perpetuation of misconceptions that have been particularly harmful for charcoal.

Biomass energy, charcoal, energy policy, fuelwood, misconceptions, woodfuel
Type of initiatives
Sector review and study
Level of intervention