U.S. and Canada Biochar Protocol Development

The Climate Action Reserve is developing a U.S. and Canada Biochar Protocol that will provide guidance on how to quantify, monitor, report, and verify climate benefits from the production and use of biochar, which is capable of locking up carbon and keeping it from re-entering the atmosphere for centuries. Biochar production provides an opportunity for the productive use of a variety of feedstocks that are otherwise considered waste biomass, including non-merchantable residues from timber harvests and fuel thinnings.

Draft for Board Consideration

The Reserve Board will consider the U.S. and Canada Biochar Protocol Version 1.0 for approval during its meeting on March 19, 2024:

Public Comment Period

The public comment period was held from November 21, 2023, to December 21, 2023. See below for the draft protocol released in November 2023, the summary of comments and responses from Reserve staff, as well as the submitted comments in their entirety.

Summary of Comments and Responses – Draft U.S. and Canada Biochar Protocol

Climate Robotics
Grain Ecosystem
US Biochar Initiative

Public Comment Webinar

The Reserve held a public comment webinar on December 7, 2023 to discuss the draft protocol in detail and to solicit public comment.


The U.S. and Canada Biochar Protocol is being developed through the Reserve’s multi-stakeholder workgroup process. The Reserve strives to create a well-balanced workgroup consisting of industry representatives, project developers, environmental NGOs, verification bodies, independent consultants, academia, and government bodies.

Workgroup member organizations are listed below:

ACT Commodities Placer County Air Pollution Control District
Arq Shell
Aster Global Sonoma Ecology Center
Biochar Solutions South Pole
Blue Forest Conservation SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Cornell University U.S. Forest Service
International Biochar Initiative University of California-Berkeley
GECA Environment Viresco Solutions Inc.
Humboldt State University, Schatz Energy Research Center Woodwell Climate Research Center
Pacific Biochar World Resources Institute

Stakeholders not chosen to be part of the workgroup are encouraged to participate in the process as “observers.” Observers may attend workgroup meetings in listen-only mode, submit written comments on the draft methodology when it is available for public comment, and attend the public webinar held during the public comment period.

Workgroup Meetings

Workgroup Drafts

Biochar Workgroup Meeting 7: Protocol Draft (April 27, 2023)

Biochar Workgroup Meeting 6: Protocol Draft (April 26, 2023)

Biochar Workgroup Meeting 5: Protocol Draft (April 25, 2023)

Biochar Workgroup Meeting 4: End Use Eligibility and Permanence (December 15, 2022)

Biochar Workgroup Meeting 3: Baseline Setting (December 6, 2022)

Biochar Workgroup Meeting 2: Feedstock Eligibility and Sustainability Standards (November 17, 2022)

Biochar Workgroup Meeting 1 (November 4, 2021) and Follow Up Meeting (November 16, 2021)

Kickoff Webinar

The Reserve hosted a public webinar on August 12, 2021 to kickoff the U.S. and Canada Biochar Protocol development process.

Market Analysis and Pilot Projects

A biochar market analysis evaluating the potential scale of credits that can be produced from biochar and the anticipated demand for such credits was developed by Blue Forest, who is also providing financial support for the analysis courtesy of funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with advisory services provided by Daniel Sanchez, Assistant Specialist in Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California-Berkeley.

Additionally, several pilot projects (provided by Pacific Biochar, Biochar Solutions, and additional biochar producers yet to be determined) will be developed alongside the protocol to test viability of offset project requirements. 

Development Timeline

The following timeline will be updated as the protocol development process unfolds.

Protocol kickoff webinar August 12, 2021
Workgroup SOIs due August 27, 2021
Formation of workgroup September 2021
Reserve staff begins to draft protocol November 2021
First general workgroup meeting November 2021
Second general workgroup meeting November 2022
Third general workgroup meeting December 2022
Fourth general workgroup meeting December 2022
Fifth, sixth, and seventh general workgroup meeting April 2023
Public comment period November 21, 2023 – December 21, 2023
Protocol presented to Reserve Board for approval March 2024 (tentative)


Financial Support

Partial funding support for the development of the U.S. and Canada Biochar Protocol, market analysis, and pilot projects was provided by a Wood Innovations Grant from the USDA Forest Service and a Forest Health Grant from CAL FIRE.

This project was funded in part by the U.S. Forest Service Wood Innovations Program.

Also funded in part by CAL FIRE.

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, and reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

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Please contact the Reserve with questions or comments.