One of the most consequential characteristics of biochar as a climate change mitigation technology is its long-term persistence in soils and other industrial applications (e.g. concrete, asphalt). Despite this, biochar had not been accepted on the voluntary carbon markets until quite recently.
However, after the IPCC acknowledged in their 2018 Special Report that reducing emissions would no longer be sufficient to keep global warming to 1.5C, significant attention has shifted to focus on methods to sequester carbon. Biochar was among the IPCC’s short-list of Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) that could provide a significant sequestration impact.
In 2019 biochar was listed for the first time on a voluntary carbon marketplace in Finland (www.Puro.earth) and in 2020 a second voluntary marketplace, CarbonFuture began to list carbon removal credits for biochar (www.carbonfuture.earth).
IBI expects that additional carbon marketplaces will develop or adopt additional biochar GHG methodologies in the near future which will enable biochar producers and users to obtain carbon removal credits and financing.
While IBI does not foresee being directly involved in the methodology development process, we seek to ensure and support developers in evolving and deploying robust, sustainable, practical, science-based methodologies that prioritize the use of safe and long-lasting biochar in carbon markets.
For additional information on the climate benefits of biochar please visit http://www.biochar-international.org/biochar/carbon.
The Biochar Carbon Stability Test Method
To develop the Biochar Carbon Stability Test Method, IBI convened a group of world-class experts (the Expert Panel) in different fields relevant to biochar persistence and representing the research and commercial sectors. The goal was to identify a simple yet reliable and verifiable measure for biochar stability. Important requisites were defined for the test, including cost, repeatability, and availability. The Biochar Carbon Stability Test Method agreed upon by the Expert Panel uses the ratio of hydrogen to organic carbon (H/Corg)—as measured using standard analytical techniques—to estimate the fraction of biochar carbon that will persist in soil for 100 years.
The Test Method is available for download; please click here.
IBI wishes to thank the members of the Expert Panel, who voluntarily agreed to devote their time to this collective effort, for which we express our gratitude in the name of the global biochar community. The members of the Expert Panel include:
- David Andersson, EcoEra, Sweden
- Alice Budai, Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research – Bioforsk, Norway
- Marta Camps, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University, New Zealand
- Annette Cowie, Rural Climate Solutions, University of New England, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Australia
- Bruno Glaser, Soil Physics Group, University of Bayreuth, Germany
- Stephen Joseph, School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales, Australia
- Johannes Lehmann, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University, United States
- Caroline Masiello, Department of Earth Science, Rice University, United States
- Paul Munroe, School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales, Australia
- Frank Shields, Control Laboratories, Inc., United States
- Bhupinderpal Singh, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Australia
- Saran Sohi, UK Biochar Research Centre, United Kingdom
- Beau Webber, School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent, United Kingdom
- Morgan Williams, Biochar Solutions, United States
- Andrew Zimmerman, Dept. of Geological Science, University of Florida, United States