A critical review of biochar science and policy

Biofuelwatch report by Almuth Ernsting and Rachel Smolker:

As the impacts of climate change escalate, efforts to develop new technologies and new approaches to reducing emissions are promoted. One proposal is to sequester carbon in soils using biochar. Biochar is essentially fine grained charcoal. Advocates claim that adding biochar to soils will store carbon safely away from the atmosphere for hundreds or even thousands of years, while boosting soil fertility and providing other benefits.

What is the basis of these claims?

Is biochar really a viable approach?

This is the final version of a report first published in June 2011, and a substantially expanded update of our 2009 “Biochar for Climate Mitigation: Fact or Fiction”. It takes a critical look at the claims around biochar, reviews the science underlying the claims, provides an overview of what biochar advocates are pushing for in terms of policies and supports, and presents an outline of the companies involved.

Executive Summary

Full Report