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SCIENCE & CLIMATE DEFINITIONS

What is Biogenic Carbon?

Biogenic carbon is the emissions related to the natural carbon cycle, as well as those resulting from the combustion, harvest, digestion, fermentation, decomposition or processing of biologically based materials.

Examples of Biogenic Carbon

  • CO2 from the combustion of biogas collected from biological decomposition of waste in landfills, wastewater treatment, or manure management processes
  • CO2 from combustion of the biological fraction of municipal solid waste or biosolids
  • CO2 derived from combustion of biological material, including forest-derived and agriculture-derived feedstocks

An Alternative to Fossil Fuel Combustion

Combustion of fossil fuels is directly contributing to the permanent and irreversible increase of concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2).

However, the combustion of biofuels and other biogenic energy sources are recycling those CO2 emissions through renewable plant materials and other biomass feedstocks.

When sustainably sourced, combustion from such fuels does not result in significant lasting increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

However, not all sources of biogenic carbon are rapidly renewable, if they’re renewable at all. Clear examples of this include old growth forests, peat bogs, or other sensitive and enduring ecosystems. In fact, use of biogenic carbon as a fuel source could even result in damage to that ecosystem while increasing atmospheric CO2.

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