New report highly critical of Biochar science & policy

Hello transition towners,

Passing this notice on to you about a new report published by biofuelwatch.

Ive been watching biochar developments here in Aotearoa and abroad for some time now. A good deal of the information being disseminated about Biochar as a climate change solution around New Zealand is emminating from networks representing companies that stand to make a tremendous amount of money out of large scale Biochar production and its entry into carbon markets, and as a result, objective information about Biochar is not reaching the environmental movement here in Aotearoa. Biofuelwatch, along with academics from the likes of Friends of the Earth Denmark and some other well known organisations have been leading research into the matter and Biofuelwatch has just published its most up to date and comprehensive review of the Biochar industry and the organisations, the science and the politics behind the drive for, and popularisation of Biochar. Biochar industry networks happen to be extremely well developed in New Zealand, as New Zealand is one of the main countries investing in Biochar research. There is a section on Biochar in New Zealand in the report.

With proposals for Biochar to be eligible for carbon credits in the NZ emissions trading scheme looking likely, and the ETS review being published at the end of the month, it is important that New Zealand's environmental community have an informed understanding of the pros and cons of this technology, the knowledge gaps and why it is being promoted so strongly.

Links to the report are below - and you might be interested in looking around the Biofuelwatch website for lots more information about Biochar, Synthetic Biology, Agrofuels and other technologies and their part in the debate about climate change, the green economy and ecological justice.


Gary Cranston

Climate Justice Aotearoa

A critical review of biochar science and policy

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 report is 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. It is an interim report, with the final version due to be published during the UN climate conference in Durban.

Download the Executive Summary.

Download the full report.