The interest in agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation strategies and specifically the role of soils seems to increase at this year’s UN climate convention in Marrakech compared to Paris a year ago.
While soils were explicitly excluded in early iterations of UN climate agreements, they were at least implicitly allowed as part of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to the Paris agreement. But the Paris accord does not mention the word agriculture or soil anywhere.
Therefore, it is good to see that soil carbon and greenhouse gas research receives great interest here in Marrakech. The French initiative “4 per mil” (to increase soil carbon annually by 0.4% to offset fossil fuel emissions) provides a welcomed boost to soil carbon sequestration approaches, and the biochar wedge in such a portfolio was well presented in various presentations throughout the week.
Showing global leadership, twenty-seven African countries confirmed the AAA, the Marrakech Declaration for Adaptation of African Agriculture, spearheaded by the Moroccan government. With Morocco being the host of this UN convention, agriculture may possibly make it this time into the negotiating text, and hopefully the potential of soil carbon sequestration will be mentioned. Sustainable soil management with long-term soil fertility benefits fits well into these strategies, and biochar provides a learning opportunity on how to link what are usually different and separate sectors focusing on energy, agriculture or waste management.