Charcoal production methods are serious ecological problem in many countries. They are one of the worst causes of deforestation:
In Haiti for instance, only 2% of the forests still stand, rivers are clogged with silt, and even ocean fish are hard to find near the river outflows. Charcoal is made by cutting down trees, burning the wood (which loses most of its energy) into charcoal, which is then solid in a market.
It takes about 1/4 of the days pay for most people to buy charcoal. It takes about 5 handfuls of charcoal to cook a day's food, charcoal fires are the only energy source for most people, who have no electricity outside the cities.
The deforestation began only in the 1990s when the cost of imported fuel rose, due to sanctions on the military dictatorship.
The destruction of the forests has made most Haitians much poorer both now and in long term. Erosion alone makes many forms of fishing and agriculture unapplicable. This demonstrates the counter productive impact of many sanctions.
Some bush schools are operated by French and Canadian ecologists in the last remaining bits of forest, far from the cities. However, even these are showing serious strains. 500 children bring sticks each day and put on a pile, and this wood is used to cook their lunch. This is a symbol both of cooperating and of low impact methods of gathering fuel that waste far less.
Slavery is also sometimes involved in charcoal production, e.g. to produce rolled steel in Brazil. Most final packaged product producers simply do not know about this comprehensive outcome of their use of charcoal and products made with it.