Biochar is a type of charcoal that is made from organic waste such as wood, crop residues, manure or even sewage sludge. It is produced by heating the waste in a low-oxygen environment, a process called pyrolysis. This prevents the waste from decomposing and releasing greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. Instead, it transforms into a stable form of carbon that can last for hundreds or even thousands of years in the soil.
Biochar has multiple benefits for the environment, the economy and the society. Here are some of them:
- Biochar sequesters carbon: By turning organic waste into biochar, we can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil for a long time. This helps mitigate climate change and reduce our carbon footprint. According to some estimates, biochar can sequester as much as 2 gigatons of CO2 per year by 2050.
- Biochar improves soil health: Biochar can enhance the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil. It can increase water retention, nutrient availability, microbial activity, crop yield and resilience to drought and pests. It can also reduce soil acidity, erosion and leaching of pollutants. Biochar is especially beneficial for degraded or marginal soils that need restoration.
- Biochar generates energy: The pyrolysis process that produces biochar also generates heat, gas and oil that can be used as renewable sources of energy. This can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and provide income and energy security for rural communities.
- Biochar creates social value: Biochar can create jobs, improve livelihoods, enhance food security and reduce poverty for farmers and other stakeholders along the biochar value chain. It can also provide environmental education, community empowerment and cultural preservation opportunities.
Carbon credits are a type of nature-based carbon removal credits that quantify and reward the climate benefits of biochar projects. They are issued by certified registries such as Verra or Puro that verify the amount of carbon sequestered by biochar and ensure its quality and durability. Biochar carbon credits can be sold or traded in voluntary or regulated carbon markets, creating an incentive for biochar production and application.
Carbon credits are important because they:
- Increase the accessibility of biochar: Biochar can be expensive to produce and transport, which limits its adoption by potential users. By generating income from carbon credits, biochar producers and users can offset their costs and increase their profitability.
- Scale up biochar deployment: Biochar has a huge potential to contribute to climate change mitigation, but it is still underutilized at a global scale. By creating a market demand for biochar carbon credits, more biochar projects can be developed and implemented, increasing the impact of biochar on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Support other co-benefits: Carbon credits not only reflect the carbon sequestration potential of biochar, but also its multiple environmental and social co-benefits such as improving soil health, generating energy, creating jobs and enhancing food security. By valuing these co-benefits, biochar carbon credits can promote holistic and sustainable development outcomes.
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