Opportunity to Implement Biochar and Climate-Smart Education on a Global Scale

As a result of technology advancements in several areas, the growth of communities implementing these technologies and funding for carbon emissions removal, an opportunity has emerged to implement the production and utilization of biochar along with climate-smart education on a global scale. Below is a brief summary that outlines this opportunity:

Biochar is a charcoal-like substance that’s made by heating organic waste (also called biomass) in an oxygen-limited environment. It can be combined with organic matter and incorporated into soil to enhance its ability to grow food.  Many organizations around the world are training people on how to make and utilize biochar such as the International Biochar Initiative. As well, there is a major initiative called Biochar Life by Warm Heart Worldwide that is underway to help smallholder farmers to receive payment for producing biochar. 

There are several climate-smart technologies and approaches to education that are creating very significant results. In addition, billions of dollars are flowing into activities that reduce or remove carbon from the atmosphere. Since producing biochar from biomass and incorporating it into soil is an internationally recognized way of removing carbon from the atmosphere, substantial money can be earned by creating this biochar. Something even more beneficial than creating biochar is combining it with nutrients and utilizing it in soil. For example, one study found that biochar combined with compost increased average crop yield by 40% compared with the control, which was compost without biochar. There have been a wide range of studies completed about biochar that have documented its substantial benefits, especially when combined with other nutrients. One notable discovery from this research is that the increase in crop yield is often even greater in the second and third year after adding this biochar to soil.
To expand access to free educational resources to people who do not have or cannot afford high speed Internet access, CharityHelp is developing an initiative combines the free resources created by the organizations associated with Ubuntu Distribution of Linux, offline versions of Wikipedia and Kolibri. This combination of software enables obsolete personal computers to become useful repurposed tools to support education. To make it easy for any computer-literate person with access to the internet to be able to do this, CharityHelp created a step-by-step guide along with short videos on how to convert an obsolete personal computer into a Linux-based education information server that enables users to access content from it via WiFi from other digital devices. The information content on these educational servers is organized and distributed using two complementary software platforms; Kolibri by Learning Equality and Kiwix. To view this step-by-step guide, visit: Converting an Obsolete Personal Computer into a Linux-based Educational Information Server.

Individuals and organizations around the world can download all the information they need from the internet and implement the required steps in the step-by-step guide on their own. In addition to the technical support provided by online forums by Linux, Learning Equality and Kiwix, CharityHelp is planning to provide online technical support to interested organizations. Once the educational information outlined in the step-by-step guide is downloaded, it can be installed on multiple information servers.

Once these educational information servers are created and operating, they can serve educational content via WiFi on a wide range of topics including math, science, history, technology, climate solutions, and learning English as a second language. Therefore users can access this content nearby with digital devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers at no cost. Along with serving educational content to users, administrators of these servers can add additional educational material by downloading content from the master Kolibri and/or Kiwix online servers.

CharityHelp is in the process of creating a module in Kolibri that provides information on a wide range of climate-smart technologies like drip irrigation and biochar-producing equipment that can be accessed by users of these information servers. Once this module is completed, everyone who creates an educational information server would be invited to download this module.

For the purposes of this document, climate-smart education refers to a wide range of educational activities that support climate action. This includes providing education to girls and training people on a wide range of climate-smart technologies like drip irrigation and biochar producing equipment. Educating girls has a significant effect on increasing a community’s resilience to climate change and reducing carbon emissions. When empowered with high-school or greater education, they have access to wider possibilities and can contribute to a community’s resilience to climate change. Another co-benefit of educating girls through high-school is that the typical family size has been observed to be reduced by about half compared to providing no education.  
Training women and girls on climate-smart technologies can help women in developing countries contribute to the fight against climate change. As well, investing in girls’ education contributes to the development of stable communities and stronger economies. For more information, visit: Girls’ Education & Related Information.
Currently, a considerable amount of money is flowing into biochar initiatives and much more is expected. For example, most of the carbon removal initiatives on an international carbon trading platform called Puro Earth are related to biochar.  As well, there is a rapid growth of companies committing to Net Zero by 2040 or 2050, which will require many of them to buy carbon credits from platforms like Puro Earth to meet their Net Zero commitments. For example, 21% of 2,000 of the world’s largest public companies, representing sales of nearly $14 trillion, now have Net Zero commitments by 2050.
One of the key outcomes of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow was the approval of Article 6 – the Paris Agreement’s rulebook governing carbon markets. This outcome can lead to a flow of many billions of dollars to developing countries for carbon emission mitigation initiatives such as biochar. To view information about this development, see this article by the World Bank: What You Need to Know About Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, May 17, 2022.
Now that substantial money can be earned by producing and utilizing biochar, many other communities can benefit by working with the biochar community including the girls’ education, agricultural training, climate action, and entrepreneurship facilitation communities.  If these other communities did work with the international biochar community, the production and utilization of biochar around the world would likely grow very rapidly.  In addition to generating substantial income for the participants, it would enable many areas of the world to grow more food and become more resilient to climate change.  Therefore, if biochar and climate-smart education were implemented on a global scale, this would have a very substantial impact on reducing world hunger, reducing population growth rate in many developing countries, and increasing stability as well as increasing resilience to climate change.

To view more details about this opportunity, see the information below along with the associated links:

1) Some quick facts about biochar:

a) It is a charcoal-like substance and is made by heating biomass in the range of about 300 to 800 deg. C in an oxygen-limited environment.
b) When added to soil, it remains in this soil for centuries.
c) It enhances soil to improve its food productivity
d) It makes crops more resilient to drought.
e) Making bio-char produces considerable surplus heat, which can be used in several ways including generating electricity and heating buildings.

2) Potential for implementing biochar on a global scale:

a) Individuals around the world can make biochar in their backyard with small-scale systems.
b) Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) can manufacture and sell biochar on small to medium commercial scale.
c) Large enterprises can manufacture and sell biochar as well as generate electrical power on a large commercial scale.
d) Biochar manufacturing systems can be combined with other technologies to generate reliable power and negative carbon emissions.

3) Enhancing the impact of biochar:

a) Co-composting it with animal manure and/or food waste can dramatically increase the productivity of soil.
b) Can be combined with girls’ education to increase food security and reduce population growth rate.
c) Creating biochar and using it in soil is an accepted method of reliably sequestering carbon by several carbon offset trading platforms. This means individuals and/or organizations can earn substantial money by selling biochar-related carbon offsets using these platforms.

4) Organizations and technologies available to enable rapid global scale-up:

a) There is an international biochar organization with many chapters around the world.  To view its website, visit: International Biochar Initiative.
b) A whole ecosystem of manufacturers, suppliers and consultants relating to biochar exists. For example, see: US Biochar Suppliers and Manufacturers.
c) Can be combined with food security aid and girls’ education communities for broad-based global scale-up.

5) Substantial information is available about biochar technology and its benefits. For example, see:

a) Animated videos:

i) List of Biochar Animations
ii) What is Biochar? Nov 5, 2019
iii) Biochar – animated explainer for Carbon Gold
iv) Biomass pyrolysis process, Mar 30, 2017

b) More detailed videos:

i) Biochar: An ICRLP Explainer Video
ii) Reversing Climate Change: Biochar in Ten Minutes, Nov 6, 2014
iii) Building Large Scale Biochar Industry by Tom Miles

c) International Biochar Initiative Publications.
d) US Biochar initiative learning database.
e) Biochar-Journal
f)  Biochar summary by the Open Source Ecology Wiki
g) Wide range of informational videos, documentaries and technical papers. For example, see:

i) Biochar: The Oldest New Thing You’ve Never Heard Of | Wae Nelson | TEDxOrlando.
ii) Amazon Soils & Biochar.
iii) How to make Biochar from locals in the Peruvian Amazon.
iv) The Promise of Biochar – one study showed about 880% increase in food production.
v) Biochar in Viticulture Webinar, Jan 14, 2022
vi) BioChar Related Information Resources by Woodgas International
vii) Benefits of BioChar by Char-Grow: Biochar the Grow Superhero
viii) The Ultimate Guide to Biochar: how to make it, how to use it, and why it’s important, Jul 5, 2020
ix) Video: The Promise of Biochar – Part 1 – adding biochar along with mineral fertilizer to some poor soil helped it grow 880% more food
x) Biochar in agriculture – A systematic review of 26 global meta-analyses, 2021 by Hans-Peter Schmidt, et al.
xi) A quantitative understanding of the role of co-composted biochar in plant growth using meta-analysis 2019 by Wang, et al.
xii) Review of Large-Scale Biochar Field-Trials for Soil Amendment and the Observed Influences on Crop Yield Variations, 2021 by Vijay, et al.

h) Videos & Information about farm scale biochar systems:

6) Some research papers about biochar and security issues:

a) Biochar for future food security: An overview, June 2017
b) Making Biochar to Improve Food Security and the Environment,  Miles, T.
c) Biochar-based fertilizers for improved food and nutrition security

7) Money is becoming available for a large scale-up of biochar technologies.  For example, see:

a) Major international carbon trading agreement (Article 6 of Paris agreement) signed at COP26 (International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) welcomes Glasgow Climate Pact).
b) US Department of Energy (DOE) launched its US$20bn Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations.

8) Manufactures of biochar can be paid the carbon capture and storage via carbon emissions trading marketplaces, such as the following:

a) Puro Earth (recently acquired by NASDAQ) – a B2B marketplace, standard and registry focused solely on carbon removals”.
b) Carbon TradeXchange
c) PowerNext – European Energy Exchange
d) Commodity Exchange Bratislava

9) There is a rapid growth of companies needing to buy carbon credits to meet their Net Zero commitments. To view some articles about the growth of the number of companies committing to Net Zero, visit:

a) 200+ companies committed to NetZero Carbon by 2040
b) 21% of 2,000 of the world’s largest public companies, representing sales of nearly $14 trillion, now have net zero commitments by 2050

10) Once large-scale projects are operational, they can be refinanced with Green Bonds (aka ClimateBonds). These bonds can be purchased by organizations that are concerned about climate change such as The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), which includes firms that collectively have over US$130 trillion under management. Once a project is re-financed via a Green Bond, project developers can use their original project funding to design and build their next project.

11) Major international initiatives can support global production and utilization of biochar. Since research has shown that girls’ education substantially reduces carbon emissions and this education can include training on biochar production and utilization, education initiatives can be very complementary to biochar initiatives. Therefore, organizations facilitating climate-smart education are included in the list below:

a) United Nations Climate Change Global Innovation (UN-CCGI) Hub
b) Global Girls’ Education Initiative
c) National Coalition for Girls’ Schools (NCGS)
d) List of international climate change initiatives
e) SME Climate Hub

12)  There are several climate finance support centres around the world. For example, given below are some based in Africa:

b) The Nigeria Climate Innovation Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
c) The Africa Sustainability Centre, Nairobi, Kenya and Bamako, Mali
d) The Climate Finance Knowledge Hub, Accra, Ghana
13) There are many project and business facilitator services for climate action around the world. For example, given below are some business accelerators in Africa:

14) Foundations that have expressed concern about climate change can help accelerate biochar production and utilization of biochar in developing countries such as the ones outlined below:

a) Philanthropy Coalition for Climate.
b) Philanthropy For Climate – 425 foundations have committed to act on climate.
c) Open Philanthropy, San Francisco, CA
d) ClimateWorks Foundation
e) Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI), San Francisco, CA

15) To accelerate the utilization of biochar and other climate-smart technologies in developing countries, special training centres that produce and utilize biochar could be implemented. These centres would generate income from making biochar and food that would help make it financially self-sustaining. These centers could be implemented with existing training facilities such as the West African Centre for Water, Irrigation and Sustainable Agriculture (WACWISA) at the University for Development Studies (UDS), Tamale, Ghana. Special training programs along with scholarships for girls and women could be provided at this centre to enable more girls and women to benefit from these climate smart technologies.  At this training centre, students could do the following:
a) Collect biomass to feed the biochar production equipment, which is similar to wood-burning equipment but designed to produce biochar as well as heat.
b) Use the surplus heat generated for cooking and other uses.
c) Combine biochar with organic compost (For example, see: biochar inoculation recipe by AirTerra).
d) Apply combined compost and biochar to soil.
e) Grow food and compare production results with and without biochar and compost.
f) Learn about how they can access funding to create and utilize biochar in their own communities.
g) Attend classes about climate change and ways how they can help their communities become more resilient.
h) Attend classes with associated training centres to learn about and use other climate-smart technologies such as:

– Solar-powered drip irrigation that enables much more food to be produced from the same amount of water (eg. SunCulture).
– Net-house combined with drip irrigation that prevents pests from eating the food grown. (similar to a green-house except that the outer cover is made of a very fine plastic screen) (eg. Netafilm Africa).
– Solar-powered micro-grid (eg. FlexGrid).
– Solar-powered cold storage that keeps food much longer (eg. TAGE).
– Water filter system and automated dispenser (ATM) (eg. Susteq).
– Water from air machine (eg. Skywater).

16) To learn more about biochar, get updates on events and technology, and communicate with those who believe in the importance of biochar, consider joining one of these forums. Forums are a great way to meet others in the field and network.

a) Biochar | Facebook
b) Biochar Will Change the World! | Facebook
c) r/Biochar | Reddit

17) Given below are some links to webpages with additional information:

a) Girls’ Education & Related Information.
b) Biochar Production and Utilization Summary.
c) Biochar Opportunities in Africa.
d) Climate Finance Resources Relating to Africa

e) Business Opportunities Creating Large-Scale Carbon Emissions Mitigation.
f) Current Climate Warming Trend, Expected Impacts & What Can Be Done?