We have chosen to support what is called biochar for part of our excess compensation. Of all the methods for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that are available on the market, biochar is one of the most interesting. It uses nature’s own biomass, which in a so-called pyrolysis is converted into carbon that remains in the soil for up to 10,000 years. In addition, heat is created that can be used in homes and industry. Investing in the production of biochar is efficient and does not risk leakage which is a problem for geological CCS projects. Investment in one tonne of biochar encapsulates just over 2.5 tonnes of carbon.
Biochar is a biological residual product and consists of 78 % pure carbon. The raw material is organic material mainly from sewage, agriculture, park and garden waste and algae.
In nature, there are natural carbon sinks in the form of growing vegetation. Plants convert minerals, water and sunlight into carbon compounds through photosynthesis. When the plants die after a few years, or in the case of trees up to a couple of 100 years, the organic material decomposes and emits methane and carbon dioxide, both of which are greenhouse gases. The circle is complete. The problem, however, is that we now need to remove enormous amounts of fossil greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, more precisely 2,000 billion tonnes since the inception of industrialization.
If you instead take organic material and process it in pyrolysis (heating of organic material in an oxygen-poor environment), heat is created that can be used for heating of houses, and bio carbon which becomes an efficient and long-lasting carbon source, and a soil improver.
We have chosen to work with Ecoera, which is well established in Sweden. They are part of Fossil-Free Sweden, members of the International Biochar Initiative Expert Panel, have participated in the creation of IBI Biochar Carbon Offset Methodology and are part of the pilot project Carbon Valley, which aims to create climate-positive agriculture. By working with Ecoera, eleven of the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Goals are addressed, see below.
By co-financing the Ecoera project, Bonnier Books will enable more pyrolysis plants to be built and operated, which in turn will provide more biochar that can be buried and bind carbon dioxide in the soil and generate what are called carbon removals.
Biochar is a durable product which, when stored in the soil, has a half-life of 150 to 5000 years. Twenty-three thousand year old Biochar from previous forest fires and civilizations has been found in the Amazon and Costa Rica, and is still stable. For every tonne of biochar that is created, 2.57 tonnes of CO2e are encapsulated and avoid being released into the atmosphere. This is equivalent to just over a year of driving a fossil-powered SUV, or a return flight between Stockholm and New York.
Biochar increases the nutrient content of the soil, accumulates more water compared to sand and gravel and creates a perfect environment for microorganisms that increases the biodiversity of the soil and promotes plant life. In addition, Biochar does not leak nutrients that eutrophicate lakes and seas. 99 % of the phosphorus contained in the organic material remains in the biochar.
Biochar has been classified as a “negative emission technology” by the UN’s climate panel IPCC since 2018 and is well developed in Sweden. The carbon is bound for thousands of years without the risk of leaking back into the atmosphere and has many other positive “side effects” such as fertilization, soil improvement and stabilization of soils.