Black gold to help fight climate change (and no we are not talking about oil)

Oil, is increasingly recognized as an asset that is likely to be worth very little in the future. Does this mean it has no value now? no of course not. Still, it is likely to move in that direction soon.

BIochar is an effective method of carbon storage, but can also benefit crops

50% of oil is used for road transportation, and in 30 years much of this is going to have converted to electric propulsion. It is already cheaper (over the lifetime of the vehicle) to drive electric, and for those who work in driving (buses, lorrys etc) the break even point is even closer, as the vehicle is used more. Will this cause big lorry companies to replace before the end of their lives? No, probably not, but when they are replaced, they will probably be replaced with electric alternatives – not due to any green credentials, but for the simple fact that its cheaper. Any company who does not transition will go out of business.

Much of the rest of our emissions will quickly fall away as well. However, there are a number of problems. Firstly, we have already emitted a huge amount of carbon, which needs to be dealt with, secondly the usual natural method to remove this carbon is increasingly under threat (think rainforests and other natural carbon storage).

In this instance, the black gold is a high-grade version of BBQ charcoal. The charred wood called biochar has been spread across farmland in a test. The tree absorbs carbon during its life, when it is cut down, that carbon is often lost over time, but instead here, using the biochar. This does not biodegrade allowing the carbon to be locked away in the soil, long-term.

The research suggests, once it is in the soil it can persist for hundreds or even thousands of years. This could allow 70% of the UK, currently used as farmland, to also work as an effective carbon storage. Another advantage, is thought to be, that it allows the soil to hold more water, which makes crops on the land more resilient to breaks in rain.

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