A Market for Sequestered Carbon

One of the benefits of gasifying agricultural residue is its ability to capture some of the biomass' carbon in the form of char. As long as the char is not burnt, it is sequestering a measurable amount of carbon out of the short term carbon cycle. While other policies are concerned with slowing the rate that carbon is added to the atmosphere, this is an opportunity to actually take it away.

By accurately measuring and certifying the rate at which the char will decompose (also known as its rate of recalcitrance), we can prove that the carbon has the capacity to stay out of the short-term carbon cycle for thousands of years.

Knowing that there is a way to sequester carbon gives a view to a world where carbon emissions are balanced by carbon sequestration. The principle is this: in order to balance the atmospheric balance of carbon, each actor who emits carbon is responsible for removing it. We each must clean up after ourselves. This creates a basis with which a dollar value could be applied to the equation — the cost of sequestering carbon can be added to the cost of using fuels that produce them.

In our vision, the suppliers of carbon sequestration will be existing rural communities and the product to be exported will physically remain in the community, to be returned to the soil from which it came. The export will be a certificate indicating to the purchaser the number of atoms of carbon that have been sequestered. Finally, the system will involve a rigorous third-party auditing system to guarantee quality and transparency of the system.

If there is enough political support for reasonable to prevail over the mass of unreasonable self-interest, then government policy will act to implement laws resulting in the equilibration of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide.  

This series of slides show an idealistic vision of how a farm could use its own crop residues as energy for cooking, biochar for soil improvement, and certified sequestered carbon as part of a carbon market.