Friday, January 23, 2009

Turnbull to go hard on emissions

The Age, Michelle Grattan 
January 24, 2009

MALCOLM Turnbull is moving to get on the front foot over climate change, proposing measures to cut emissions substantially more than the Government guarantees under its emissions trading scheme.

The Opposition Leader will say today a Coalition government would commit to reducing carbon dioxide emissions — now about 600 million tonnes annually — by at least 150 million tonnes a year by 2020.

But in a speech to the Young Liberals conference in Canberra, Mr Turnbull will remain coy about what the Opposition will do in the Senate this year on the emissions trading legislation.

"An ETS is no more than a piece of economic plumbing to be assessed objectively and pragmatically for its effectiveness in reducing emissions without destroying Australian jobs," Mr Turnbull will say, seeking to broaden the debate beyond the ETS. In the speech, he attacks Kevin Rudd's "rush to finalise" the ETS this year as politics trumping sound policy.

The Opposition will announce its attitude after it receives an assessment it has commissioned and sees the legislation. The Turnbull plan comprises:

* A "Green Carbon" initiative to offset greenhouse gases by capturing and storing large quantities of carbon in soil and vegetation.

* Measures to encourage improved energy efficiency in buildings, where 23 per cent of greenhouse gases originate.

* Increased investment in new technologies, especially clean coal.

The Government has promised a unilateral 5 per cent reduction of emissions on 2000 levels (when they were about 550 million tonnes annually) by 2020. This would be a reduction of about 80 million tonnes off present levels. The Government says it would go further if there is a satisfactory international agreement this year.

Mr Turnbull said the reduction in emissions in his plan "will be well beyond those proposed by the unimaginative bureaucratic white paper of Mr Rudd". His "Green Carbon" initiative includes restoring carbon to the soil through better land management, investing in revegetation and reforestation and pursuing sequestration of large quantities of carbon through "biochar" — the conversion of biomass into charcoal, which can be fixed in soil.

Mr Turnbull says a Coalition government would ensure financial support for building at least two industrial-scale carbon capture and storage power station projects.

"The Rudd Government, in its haste to implement its poorly designed ETS, has neglected all alternative paths to a low carbon economy."

The Government is waiting anxiously for the Opposition's response on the ETS, because it would prefer to deal with the Coalition than trying to juggle the Greens, who are highly critical of Labor's scheme, and the small Senate players. The global economic crisis is making it harder for the Government's scheme, increasing the pressure for substantial compromises and encouraging the Opposition at least to demand big changes and/or to delay the legislation.

Mr Turnbull gives no truck to the climate change sceptics on his side of politics, saying the question of whether or to what extent human activities are causing global warming is not a matter of ideology or belief.

"The issue is simply one of risk management," he says.


TBWG 6/2009 said...

Let's look at and learn about "slow pyrolysis" and Biochar seriously:
Biochar may represent the single most important initiative for humanity’s environmental future.
The biochar approach provides a uniquely powerful solution, for it allows us to address food security, the fuel crisis, and the climate problem, and all in an immensely practical manner. ...

Professor Tim Flannery

The International Biochar Initiative (IBI)

An Open Letter on Biochar from Professor Tim Flannery

Tim Flannery is a Professor in Earth and Life Sciences at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia...

Throughout 2008 it’s felt as if our future has been crystallising before our eyes. Food shortages, escalating oil prices, a melting Arctic ice cap and other climatic changes seem to make the news every week. All are potentially serious threats, and any one could be the harbinger of profound change for our global civilisation. Scientific studies confirm that our planet is warming at a rate consistent with the worst case scenario developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001, meaning that we must make substantial inroads on our emissions in the next 20 years if we hope to avoid irreversible damage to Earth’s climate system. Yet, with economic growth and the thirst for energy in China and India seemingly unstoppable, this is a task of the utmost difficulty. Furthermore, progress cannot be made at the cost of our food or energy security. What is needed in this 21st century of ours, clearly, are solutions that deal with several of our major problems at once. And they must be deliverable quickly, and at a scale able to make a real difference.
Biochar may represent the single most important initiative for humanity’s environmental future. The biochar approach provides a uniquely powerful solution, for it allows us to address food security, the fuel crisis, and the climate problem, and all in an immensely practical manner. Biochar is both an extremely ancient concept and one very new to our thinking. Amazonian Indians used it to produce the terra preta soils of the Amazon basin which, a thousand years after their creation, remain more fertile than surrounding lands. Yet few farmers living today have heard of biochar. Worse, our political debates about climate change continue in ignorance of it, while industries that could benefit immensely from it have barely considered it.
The key element in the biochar technologies is charcoal-making, which involves the heating of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. There are many important products of the charcoal-making processes, including a synthetic gas which can be used to generate electricity; a substitute for diesel fuel, and the charcoal itself, which has the potential to sequester gigatonnes of atmospheric carbon per annum, making it the most potent engine of atmospheric cleansing we possess. Among the most valuable outcomes of the application of the biochar technologies are greatly increased economic efficiency in agriculture, enhanced crop yields, and slowing the return to the atmosphere of carbon captured by plants. Diverse and clean energy supplies, more food per unit of input, and climate security. In simple terms, this is what the biochar revolution offers us.
Biochar technologies are potentially world-wide in their applicability. Grain production and many other forms of agriculture, livestock production, forestry and even the disposal of human waste will, I’m convinced, be profoundly transformed by biochar, and the impact will be both swift and radical. The driver, at least initially, is likely to be the climate crisis. Approximately eight per cent of all atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by plants each year. If just a small proportion of the carbon captured by plants can be pyrolysed and transformed into charcoal, humanity’s prospects will be much brighter, for this will buy us time as we struggle to make the transition to a low emissions economy.
Biochar represents a cornerstone of our future global sustainability. With the appropriate political and technical recognition, promotion and adoption, it will change our world forever, and very much for the better.

Tim Flannery

August 2008

TBWG 6/2009 said...

Two more links:

Erich J. Knight said...

I thought these updates and endorsements may interest you,

Senator / Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has done the most to nurse this biofuels system in his Biochar provisions in the 07 & 08 farm bill,

Below are my current news & Links to major developments;

Erich J. Knight
540 289 9750

Biochar, the modern version of an ancient Amazonian agricultural practice called Terra Preta (black earth), is gaining widespread credibility as a way to address world hunger, climate change, rural poverty, deforestation, and energy shortages… SIMULTANEOUSLY!

The IBI Announces Success in Having Biochar Considered as a Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Tool;

POZNAN, Poland, December 10, 2008 - The International Biochar Initiative (IBI) announces that the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has submitted a proposal to include biochar as a mitigation and adaptation technology to be considered in the post-2012-Copenhagen agenda of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A copy of the proposal is posted on the IBI website at
The International Biochar Initiative (IBI).

Modern Pyrolysis of biomass is a process for Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration,10X Lower Methane & N2O soil emissions, and 3X Fertility Too.
Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration, Bio-Gas & Bio-oil fuels, so is a totally virtuous, carbon negative energy cycle.

Charles Mann ("1491") in the Sept. National Geographic has a wonderful soils article which places Terra Preta / Biochar soils center stage.

Please put this (soil) bug in your colleague's ears. These issues need to gain traction among all the various disciplines who have an iron in this fire.

I also have been corresponding with Michael Pollan ( NYT Food Columnist, Author ) to do a follow up story.

Since the NGM cover reads "WHERE FOOD BEGINS" , I thought this would be right down his alley and focus more attention on Mann's work.
It's what Mann hasn't covered that I thought should interest any writer as a follow up article;

Biochar data base;

NASA's Dr. James Hansen Global warming solutions paper and letter to the G-8 conference, placing Biochar / Land management the central technology for carbon negative energy systems.

The many new university programs & field studies, in temperate soils; Cornell, ISU, U of H, U of GA, Virginia Tech, JMU, New Zealand and Australia.

Glomalin's role in soil tilth, fertility & basis for the soil food web in Terra Preta soils.

Given the current "Crisis" atmosphere concerning energy, soil sustainability, food vs. Biofuels, and Climate Change what other subject addresses them all?

This is a Nano technology for the soil that represents the most comprehensive, low cost, and productive approach to long term stewardship and sustainability.

Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.

In a recent National Public Radio interview, Michael Pollan talks about how he was approached by a Democratic party staffer about his New York Times article, The "Farmer & Chief", an open letter to the next president concerning U.S. agriculture/energy policy. The staffer wanted Pollan to summarize the article into a page or two to get it into the hands of Barack Obama. Pollan declined, saying that if he could have said everything that needed to be said in two pages, he wouldn't have written 8000 words.

Michael Pollan is well briefed about Biochar technology, but did not include it in his "Farmer & Chief" article to President Obama, (Which he did read & cited in a speech) but I'm sure Biochar will be his 8001th word to him.

540 289 9750

Total CO2 Equivalence:
Once a commercial bagged soil amendment product, every suburban household can do it,
The label can tell them of their contribution, a 40# bag = 150# CO2 = 160 bags / year to cover my personal CO2 emissions. ( 20,000 #/yr , 1/2 Average )

But that is just the Carbon!
I have yet to find a total CO2 equivalent number taking consideration against some average field N2O & CH4 emissions. The New Zealand work shows 10X reductions.If biochar proves to be effective at reducing nutrient run-off from agricultural soils, then there will accordingly be a reduction in downstream N2O emissions.

This ACS study implicates soil structure as main connection to N2O soil emissions;

Biochar Studies at ACS Huston meeting;



665 - III.


Most all this work corroborates char soil dynamics we have seen so far . The soil GHG emissions work showing increased CO2 , also speculates that this CO2 has to get through the hungry plants above before becoming a GHG.
The SOM, MYC& Microbes, N2O (soil structure), CH4 , nutrient holding , Nitrogen shock, humic compound conditioning, absorbing of herbicides all pretty much what we expected to hear.

Company News & EU Certification

Below is an important hurtle that 3R AGROCARBON has overcome in certification in the EU. Given that their standards are set much higher than even organic certification in the US, this work should smooth any bureaucratic hurtles we may face.

EU Permit Authority - 4 years tests
Subject: Fwd: [biochar] Re: GOOD NEWS: EU Permit Authority - 4 years tests successfully completed

Doses: 400 kg / ha – 1000 kg / ha at different horticultural cultivars

Plant height Increase 141 % versus control
Picking yield Increase 630 % versus control
Picking fruit Increase 650 % versus control
Total yield Increase 202 % versus control
Total piece of fruit Increase 171 % versus control
Fruit weight Increase 118 % versus control

There is list of the additional beneficial effects of the 3R FORMULATED BIOCHAREU DOSSIER for permit administration and summary of the results from 4 different Authorities who executed different test programme is under construction
I suggest these independent and accredited EU relevant Authority permit field tests results will support the further development of the biochar application systems on international level, and providing case evidence, that properly made and formulated (plant and/or animal biomass based) biochars can meet the modern environmental - agricultural - human health inspection standards and norm, while supporting the knowledge based economical development.

We work further on to expand not only in the EU but in the USA as well. My Cincinnati large scale carbonization project is progressing, hopefully the first industrial scale 3R clean coal - carbon plant will be ready in 2009.

Sincerely yours: Edward Someus (environmental engineer)

EcoTechnologies is planning for many collaborations ; NC State, U. of Leeds, Cardiff U. Rice U. ,JMU, U.of H. and at USDA with Dr.Jeffrey Novak who is coordinating ARS Biochar research. This Coordinated effort will speed implementation by avoiding unneeded repetition and building established work in a wide variety of soils and climates.

Hopefully all the Biochar companies will coordinate with Dr. Jeff Novak's soils work at ARS;