One thing that sets biochar apart from these well-meaning forestry schemes is the plain and simple tangibility of the carbon. While the verification of carbon removal or avoidance through forestry involves the cooperation of numerous botanists, soil scientists and skilled technicians, the carbon is never really visible to the naked eye.
When measuring carbon in a biochar project, by contrast, you can physically behold a cubic meter of grey matter and measure it to contain something like 84 percent carbon. Then you can literally bury that carbon in the ground (after mixing mixing the char with compost) and mark its precise location with GPS. With some simple, straightforward calculations, you know exactly how much carbon dioxide has been gathered in the biomass and relegated to the soil.
At Planboo, we consider biochar production to be one of the very best methods of carbon removal at our disposal. We like to point out that a schoolchild, without a PhD in soil science, could revisit the site several centuries from now and still dig the carbon from the ground. The measurement and verification is much more clear and quantifiable, but it also brings a wider range of benefits.
When derived from a sustainable source of biomass, like well-managed bamboo, we rely on the age-old cycle of photosynthesis whereby vegetation absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. This is the basic principal that underlies any forestry-based carbon project (and pretty much all life on earth). But by steadily harvesting the most mature bamboo poles and leaving the bulk of the plant intact, we are collecting the highest concentrations of carbon without having to kill off the plant as you would when harvesting a tree.
Then, through the careful process of pyrolysis, the majority of that carbon is trapped in a substance called biochar, which serves as an extremely beneficial soil additive. Buried in the earth, the porous biochar helps the topsoil retain moisture and attract a healthy population of microorganisms. At the same time, the regenerated soil stores the carbon and keeps it out of the atmosphere for up to a thousand years.
Cleaning the air, improving the soil, regenerating forest and farmland, and reducing the need for expensive, chemical fertiliser, biochar creates a complete cycle of carbon removal and land enrichment. Finally, by tracking and certifying the carbon removal, and issuing commensurate CDRCs, we are able to finance these positive projects in parts of the world that have been hardest hit by deforestation and Climate Change.
Conclusions about the carbon market
At Planboo, we have no intention of hiding our heads in the ground. Neither do we intend to beat around the bush or make excuses for those who have and may continue to abuse the system. We acknowledge that the system may have its flaws, and that much work remains to be done.
But when it comes to initiating and verifying projects, we hold ourselves and our partners to a very high standard. We believe that our MRV (measuring, recording and verifying) tools are capable of monitoring and scrutinizing everything that goes into (and comes out of) a biochar operation. Our methods and technology deliver both reliability and transparency, and we invite any critic to work with us if there’s room for improvement.
In spite of any shortcomings, we still believe that the carbon credit market can and should be used to hold the major polluters accountable. Given the critical state of our planet and the atmosphere, the system of punishing GHG emitters and rewarding CO2 removal makes pretty good sense. But those who participate in the system have to recognise the difference between higher and lower-value credits. And we all need to push for greater transparency and stricter enforcement so the bad apples don’t distract from the real, existential threat that should remain our highest priority.
Examine our credits
If you’re interested in knowing more about Planboo’s ongoing work to promote biochar production and carbon removal in the tropics, or you want to learn how to support these socially and environmentally positive projects, please don’t hesitate to contact us
. We remain committed to our objectives, and to financing these projects with only the highest-quality and most strictly-certified CDRCs on the market.