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Biochar Carbon Offset Methodology

Biochar and Climate Change Mitigation

One of the most critical characteristics of biochar as a climate change mitigation technology is its long-term stability in soil. Quantification of the stable carbon component of biochar can facilitate the participation of biochar projects in international carbon markets, providing an additional revenue stream to projects delivering greenhouse gas emissions reductions through soil carbon sequestration. The Biochar Carbon Offset Methodology includes a quantification methodology for this purpose.  For additional information on the climate benefits of biochar please visit http://www.biochar-international.org/biochar/carbon.

Development of the Biochar Carbon Offset Methodology

The Biochar Carbon Offset Methodology quantifies the stable carbon component of biochar as well as the avoided emissions from feedstock that would otherwise undergo combustion or decomposition. Critical to the methodology is identification of a cost-effective, scientifically valid test to measure the stable carbon component of biochar when applied to soils. IBI led an effort to identify a test methodology to assess and quantify the stable carbon component of biochar–the Biochar Carbon Stability Test. The objective of this Test is to measure the recalcitrant, stable component of carbon in biochar that will exhibit at least a 100-year residence time in soil (100 years being the pro forma definition of permanence in the Kyoto Protocol and applied to most other carbon exchange programs, including ACR).

To develop the Biochar Carbon Stability Test, IBI convened a group of world-class experts (the Expert Panel) in different fields of biochar relevant to stability 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 agreed upon by the Expert Panel involves measurement of certain physico-chemical properties of the stable carbon in biochar that exhibits stability in soil for a minimum of  a 100-year time span.

September 2014 Update: Placer County CA Webinar Slides Available

A coaltion of partners (Placer County Air Pollution Control District, The Prasino Group, The Climate Trust, and IBI) recently participated in a webinar targeted to stakeholders in Placer County CA to update them on the initiative to approve the Biochar Protocol for use in the county under the CAPCOA (California Air Pollution Control Officer's Association) GHG Exchange. A copy of the webinar slides can be downloaded for review, or watch the slides and hear the full presentation. For more information on the CAPCOA Greenhouse Gas Reduction Exchange, please see: http://www.ghgrx.org.

Expert Panel Members

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

October 2013 Update

ACR hosted a public webinar to review the methodology on October 28, 2013, which was presented by ACR and the methodology developers, including IBI and colleagues from The Climate Trust and The Prasino Group. The webinar, which was well-attended (98 individuals participated), was followed by a 30-minute Q&A session, and can be accessed for viewing at http://youtu.be/Ou-xpscWYjw?t=5s.

To download the slides, please click here.

September 2013 Update: Publication of the Biochar Carbon Stability Test Method: An assessment of methods to determine biochar carbon stability

The full citation is below. To read the document, please click here.

Budai, A., Zimmerman, A. R., Cowie, A. L., Webber, J. B. W., Singh, B. P., Glaser, B., Masiello, C. A., Andersson, D., Shields, F., Lehmann, J., Camps Arbestain, M., Williams, M., Sohi, S. and Joseph, S. (2013). Biochar Carbon Stability Test Method: An assessment of methods to determine biochar carbon stability. International Biochar Initiative document; http://www.biochar-international.org/sites/default/files/IBI_Report_Bioc....

September 2013 Update: American Carbon Registry Announces Public Comment Period for Biochar Carbon Offset Methodology

The Methodology for Biochar Projects has just been posted for public comment on the American Carbon Registry’s (ACR) website at: http://americancarbonregistry.org/carbon-accounting/methodology-for-bioc.... The American Carbon Registry (ACR) is a non-profit enterprise of Winrock International and is seeking feedback from members, stakeholders, project proponents, and other interested parties by November 22, 2013.

The methodology was prepared by a project team consisting of The Climate Trust, The Prasino Group, The International Biochar Initiative, and Carbon Consulting. Several rounds of initial revisions and clarifications requested by ACR to the draft methodology have been completed by the methodology project team. During the current public comment period, ACR will also offer a stakeholder consultation webinar to solicit additional public input; IBI will widely announce the webinar date to our members and stakeholders. The project team will then respond to public comments in a further revision of the document, and this version will then undergo at least two rounds of comment-and-response by a scientific peer review panel convened by ACR. Upon completion of the peer review and approval by ACR, the final methodology will be published on ACR’s website and available for use by project proponents.

The methodology embeds the International Biochar Initiative’s IBI Biochar Standards (2013) as a requirement to use only biochar materials that meet IBI’s globally developed standards to ensure biochar material and safety requirements are met.

Projects using this methodology must comply with all requirements of the ACR Standard, submit a GHG Project Plan for certification by ACR, and secure independent validation and verification by an ACR-approved third-party validation/verification body.

For more information on this public comment period, please see: http://americancarbonregistry.org/carbon-accounting/methodology-for-bioc.... The full Methodology for public comment can be found at: http://americancarbonregistry.org/carbon-accounting/biochar-public-comment.

April 2013 Update: Biochar Carbon Offset Methodology Submitted for Validation at American Carbon Registry

Continuing our efforts to advancing the development of biochar as a climate change mitigation and soil enhancement tool, IBI is pleased to announce the submittal of a proposed Quantification Methodology for Biochar Projects to the American Carbon Registry (ACR)—a leading voluntary carbon market offset program. Development of the methodology was led by The Climate Trust  in collaboration with The Prasino Group and IBI. The methodology was submitted in April 2013 and, in accordance with ACR protocols, there will be a public comment period in the coming weeks that IBI will announce to its membership and to global biochar stakeholders.