Biochar carbon removal is a quickly growing approach to eliminating emissions from the atmosphere that has delivered the most carbon removal credits so far out of all other CDR methods. That is 92% of all permanent carbon removal deliveries in the first half of 2023, according to CDR.fyi.
A new research has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Biochar, commissioned by the International Biochar Initiative which analyses the approach in detail, diving into its potential to scale to deliver climate benefits.
The analysis quantifies biochar’s carbon removal potential across 155 countries, with net removal potential on a national and global scale, assuming a sustainable supply and no purpose-grown biomass.
The research shows that biochar is an affordable, scalable, and readily available solution that also provides environmental and social co-benefits like improved soil health leading to increased crop yields.
“This is the first research to quantify the significant role biochar can play in worldwide climate action and carbon removal strategies, at the level of individual countries. To scale biochar to its full potential, we now have a starting point of what is possible at the country level. By considering the climate impact of co-benefits such as fossil fuel displacement, improved crop yields, and healthier soil, we can also go farther, getting a better picture of biochar’s complete climate solution potential,” said Dr. Thomas Trabold, co-author and research professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability.
The main takeaways from the research are that biochar can potentially remove up to 6% of global emissions annually which equals 3 billion metric tons of CO2 (the total emissions of 803 coal-fired power plants in one year).
Biochar also has a high removal potential in developing countries in continents like Africa, South America and Eastern Europe that even though have contributed the least to the climate crisis, are experiencing the most of its consequences.
The research finds that the minimum global CO2 removal potential is 10% from 25 countries, concentrated in those continents. Biochar can also potentially reduce the national carbon footprint by over 30% in Eswatini and more than 20% in Malawi, Argentina, and Ghana.
The greatest carbon dioxide removal (CDR) potential still rests with the world’s biggest emitters – China, the United States, Brazil, and India, who can chart a pathway for sustainable emissions reductions through biochar.
Given its high carbon removal potential as shown by the numbers, biochar can play a critical role in the CDR industry and deliver new revenue streams and other benefits for countries that are most vulnerable to climate change.