Millions at risk
But the impact of this unregulated coal trade is chilling.
Aid agency Christian Aid estimates that 182 million people in Africa are at risk of dying as a consequence of climate change by the end of the century.
Lee White, a climate change expert, concurs: “To get an idea of the value of the sink, the removal of nearly 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by intact tropical forests should be valued at around $25 billion a year. This is a compelling argument for conserving tropical forests.”
But Africa has not been very good at this.
According to the UN the continent is losing forest twice as fast as the rest of the world.
“Once upon a time, Africa boasted seven million square kilometres of forest but a third of that has been lost – most of it to charcoal.”