Initiative for a Carbon Negative Economy

Initiative for a Carbon Negative Economy


“Carbon negative” describes any activity that removes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it creates. ICNE envisions a “carbon negative economy,” which goes beyond current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adopting a strategy of actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This captured carbon is sequestered in soils, sediments, and oceans as part of the natural carbon cycle of the biosphere, while at the same time supporting economic activities of human society.

The potential of carbon negative energy is explained in a parable by ICNE member Robert C. Brown. See Managing Carbon Like Coffee Cups in The Hill Website.

The Petroleum Economy

We live in a petroleum economy today, where energy is essentially produced from carbon pulled out of the geosphere, resulting in the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.



The Carbon Economy: Reversing the Paradigm

A carbon negative economy would reverse this paradigm. Here, carbon dioxide is pulled out of the air as a result of photosynthesis. Energy is made from the resulting biomass, and carbon can be returned to the outermost layer of the earth, known as the “pedosphere,” in the form of biochar, a solid product that results from processing biomass into biofuels. The energy has economic value, of course, but the ICNE believes biochar also has worth as a soil amendment. Biochar has been shown to increase soil fertility by improving nutrient and water retention, lowering soil acidity and density, and increasing microbial activity.