Charcoal Conflict in Climate Change’s Decarbonisation Dilemmas: Knots of Livelihood, Nutrition, Communities, Gender, Migration & Energy in East Africa


Start date: 1 June, 2023 End date: 30 November, 2027 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier Window 1) Project code: 23-07-KU Countries: Tanzania Uganda Thematic areas: Climate change, Economic development and value chains, Energy, Lead institution: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Partner institutions: Makerere University (MAK), Uganda St. Augustine University of Tanzania, Tanzania Project coordinator: Ole Wæver Total grant: 10,399,621 DKK

Project summary

Charcoal is the main source of energy in Ugandan and Tanzanian households. But in both countries, charcoal policies are contradictory: Negative effects like deforestation and emissions motivate change through fuel switching or greening of the charcoal value chain. Simultaneously, development goals and population growth intensify charcoal dependence. Meanwhile, global climate agendas put pressure on countries like Uganda and Tanzania. This increases risks that sudden changes dictated from above overlook the complex dynamics around charcoal and its role in local life: the social and political economy of livelihoods, gender relations, informal economies, ethnic relations and private sector growth.

Through a focus on “decarbonisation dilemmas”, this project aims, first of all, to understand the pitfalls of climate change mitigation efforts, including conflicts spurred by greening complex value chains in vulnerable communities. Secondly, to contribute to further theoretical conceptualisations of climate justice and global governance by concretely linking these to local cases. Thirdly, to develop peaceful pathways to energy transitions, that limit emissions and support local livelihoods.

The project comprises four themes. One is sociocultural conflict around charcoal explored with local fieldwork on select regions. The other main theme is on legal and policy frameworks and their inconsistencies. Adding to this is an underlying theme on local solutions and an overarching theme on global governance structures.

The project will be conducted through multidisciplinary methodologies in the fields of sociology, law and political science, reflecting the core competencies of the three institutions involved; St. Augustine University of Tanzania, Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) at Makerere University, Uganda, and the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC) at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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