To reach the Paris goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, hundreds of gigatons of CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere in the coming decades - in addition to massive emission reductions. In the course of the 21st century we must remove and safely store roughly as much CO2 from the atmosphere as we emit, says the IPCC.
Reverse the flow of the greenhouse gases: Down and not up. Reverse the flow of money: Reward carbon sinks and not polluters. This is the basis of the carbon sink economy.
What is a carbon sink?
In the natural carbon cycle carbon is exchanged between the atmosphere, biosphere, the ocean and land mass. Carbon (in form of CO2 or methane) in the atmosphere heats the planet, sequestered carbon in the soil or in the sea doesn't. Creating a carbon sink means
- Extracting CO2 from the atmosphere
- Storing the extracted carbon safely over a specified period of time
- Verifying and documenting this service in a trustworthy and auditable way
Saving existing forests, using efficient stoves or switching to renewable energy are key to reducing emissions. But just reducing emissions does not create carbon sinks.
No sink is forever, for example
- Fossile carbon deposits are mined and exploited
- Afforestation projects may be cleared due to changing social, economic or political circumstances
- Carbon rich humus degrades due to intensive conventional agriculture based on chemical fertilisers
Nature-based carbon sinks
Currently, there are three types of nature-based mature, scalable, scientifically backed-up carbon sink technologies:
- Soil organic carbon
These sinks have a primary use in agriculture and, if handled appropriately, foster bio-diversity and soil quality, which are next to climate change (and nuclear war) the two biggest threats to life on earth. Biochar has a great potential in other applications like construction materials, decontamination or technical textile.
Biochar-based sinks are the perfect start for carbonfuture for the following reasons:
- Biochar brought into soil is stable over time (with a decay rate below 0.3% per annum) and cannot be extracted
- The biochar production processes in (EBC) certified pyrolysis plants is standardized and production emissions can be quantified
- The biochar supply chain can be tracked
carbonfuture climate credits monetize the climate service provided by carbon sinks
carbonfuture Climate Credits are financing portfolios of sinks. Each physical sink (e.g. a big bag of biochar applied to the soil on a specific farm) is documented and securitised in an individual "cf-certificate", which contains:
- An independent EBC-certificate quantifiying the climate positivity of the biochar (at production site) net of production emissions
- Evidence of the effective sink creation by applying the biochar in a way that ensures stable sequestration (e.g. in direct soil applications)
- Immutable documentation of these evidences on the carbonfuture Hyperledger blockchain (which is not an energy intensive technology)
One carbonfuture Climate Credit finances the stable removal of 1 t CO2 equivalent over 100 years. Although the decay rate of the biochar-sinks is much lower than the natural decay rate of CO2 in the atmosphere, we initially store 1.16 t CO2 equivalent to guarantee an average of 1 ton over 100 years. This standard ensures climate positivity.
What's different to other compensation schemes?
Compensating emissions is good, but the established compensation schemes face significant challenges.
- First, we are not aware of any scheme that takes the duration of sinks comprehensively into account except for carbonfuture. However, differentiating sinks by duration is obviously necessary to quantify the value of the sinks, make sinks comparable and provide a fair compensation to those who provide these essential climate services.
- Second, many compensation schemes struggle with ensuring the positive effect on the climate of the financed projects for a variety of reasons.
We created carbonfuture to address these issues and to provide the best-in-class compensation standard:
- We only support true carbon sinks
- We rely on independent sink certification with scientifically substantiated and conservative quantification
- We fully consider the life-cycle of sinks, including production emissions and explicit accounting of the sink duration
- We document the sinks end-to-end on a blockchain-based distributed ledger platform
- We follow a platform economy approach and make the framework interoperable and available to a wide range of participants
carbonfuture is designed to become the backbone of the carbon sink economy. It will be available to sink producers, auditors and independent certifiers, to broker/dealers and to those who invest in climate services for whatever reason.