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Playing with Fire: Human Misery, Environmental Destruction and Summer BBQs

With temperatures soaring across Europe this summer millions have enjoyed barbecues – and will continue to do so until the last drops of warm weather. Yet few are aware of the true cost of the charcoal they fire them with.

Around 70 per cent of the charcoal used in Europe is imported and Namibia is the UK’s biggest supplier of charcoal. Today Fern releases a report, Playing with Fire: human misery, environmental destruction and summer BBQs, showing that in Namibia:


  • Trees are being illegally harvested on a vast scale to make charcoal.
  • Workers are operating in deplorable conditions. Many of them live in black plastic sheet dwellings without access to running water or toilets.
  • They make the charcoal in archaic kilns, which evidence shows cause massive damage to the environment - as well as to the workers’ health.
PDF icon Playing with Fire FINAL.pdf1.16 MB