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Biochar projects for mitigating climate change: an investigation of critical methodology issues for carbon accounting

TitleBiochar projects for mitigating climate change: an investigation of critical methodology issues for carbon accounting
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsWhitman, Thea, Scholz Sebastian M., and Lehmann Johannes
JournalCarbon Management
Volume1
Issue1
Pagination89-107
Date PublishedOctober 2010
Abstract

Biochar is a potential tool in our fight against climate change, driven by its high carbon stability and supported by its roles in bioenergy and soil fertility. We consider methodology aspects of biochar systems used for carbon management and investigate the criteria for establishing additionality, baselines, permanence, leakage, system drivers, measurement, verification, economics and development for successful stand-alone projects and carbon offsets. We find that explicitly designing a biochar system around ‘true wastes’ as feedstocks combined with safe system drivers could minimize unwanted land-use impacts and leakage. Applying baselines of biomass decomposition rather than total soil carbon is effective and supports a longer crediting period than is currently standard. With biochar production introduced into bioenergy systems, under a renewable biomass scenario, the change in emissions increases with higher fuel use, instead of decreasing. Biochars may have mean residence times of over 1000 years, but can be accounted for more effectively using a recalcitrant and labile fraction.

URLhttp://www.future-science.com/doi/full/10.4155/cmt.10.4