Reason 4: Biochar Has a Wide Variety of Positive Synergistic Effects that Mitigate Climate Change
There is significant and growing concern over the potential effects of climate change. Companies are coming under increasing pressure to mitigate their climate impacts. It is commonly believed that such action comes at a cost, perhaps a very high cost. Biochar, however, introduces the potential, in certain sectors, to genuinely mitigate a firm's carbon footprint at a profit.
The key to implementing this paradigm shift is an effective system of sustainable carbon recycling.
Worldwide, plants absorb 60 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year and use it to create carbohydrates and more complex structural molecules, all based on carbon. Sustainable carbon recycling leverages this natural capacity to absorb carbon. When biochar is created from plant matter, the carbon in plant structures is stabilized so it does not decompose and return to the atmosphere as CO2. The resulting safe and relatively permanent sequestration of carbon is perhaps the primary way that biochar helps to mitigate climate change. But there are other synergistic effects that arise as biochar is added to agricultural soils.
As soil health and thus agricultural yields increase, more carbon is absorbed from the atmosphere. That extra carbon is stored in the plant, both above and below ground in larger root systems that result from increased growth. The above ground biomass becomes potential feedstock for biochar, while the below ground biomass is temporarily sequestered as soil organic matter.
Increased agricultural yields from healthy soils decrease the pressure to utilize carbon-intensive agrochemicals. Higher yields also decrease pressures to obtain more farm land, preventing carbon emissions from deforestation and other forms of land use change. This factor is particularly relevant in tropical areas, where soil carbon levels are typically very low and biochar has been shown to double or triple yields.
Biochar has also been demonstrated to decrease nitrous oxide and methane emissions from soils in certain cases. Both of these gases have a much more powerful warming effect in the atmosphere than CO2, so these findings are significant.