Biochar’s Big Question: How Do We Scale to Deliver on Biochar’s Promises?

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October 2023 | Read the full Global Biochar Industry Update

Sometimes ideas come to mind in unusual places. This year, the IBI Symposium theme came to me on a walk in springtime NYC.

While I was heading towards the first U.S. Carbon Unbound event, I was thinking about sessions and chats from the day before. First, I was thinking about how underrepresented biochar was at the event, noting I would try to get more IBI members at the event next year. (Carbon Unbound Europe seemed to have a great deal of biochar representation, though!) My next thoughts came together quickly: what do we need to do to scale the biochar industry? 

This is a big question with many answers, of course.

I thought about the past year and half — of my many discussions with biochar producers, biochar technology and equipment makers, companies that are considering how to use biochar production to solve a problem, with investors, with environmental NGOs, with researchers. 

Themes emerge during these conversations: the economic challenges for biochar production, the need for demand for biochar as a product to grow as quickly as for its carbon credits. Producers tell me more sectors need to understand what biochar could do for them. All of this leading to the fast industry scaling that could deliver on biochar’s promise as a circular climate change solution.

Now that IBI-sponsored research has demonstrated that biochar production could remove up to 6 percent of global emissions per year — that’s India’s annual share of the global greenhouse gasses — I feel even more strongly that the time is nigh to push hard to reach more new stakeholders, in more sectors, and to help the global biochar industry with the knowledge, connections, and advocacy we need to “Scale the Biochar Industry to Cool a Boiling Planet*.” 

I hope you’ll join us to add to the conversation, to make stronger connections, and let us know how IBI can do more for your work!

*Riffing on the UN Secretary General António Guterres quote from July 2023: “The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.”