Can Hemp Help Reduce Carbon Emissions?

The rapid growth of hemp makes it one of the most efficient tools for converting CO2 into biomass available, more so than agroforestry. Industrial hemp contains extremely low levels of the chemical compound THC, which has psychoactive effects, and the leaves contain a chemical called CBD (non-psychoactive) that is promoted to treat medical ailments. Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, but it contains very low levels of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compared to marijuana, which is another variety. Shah pointed out that, unlike conventional agriculture, which emits large amounts of carbon, hemp farms do the opposite. According to a researcher at the University of Cambridge, one hectare of hemp can absorb between 8 and 15 tons of CO2. Not only that, but using hemp as paper instead of wood also keeps trees in forests, where they can store more carbon.

Shah's work encompasses composites of artificial wood, bamboo and natural fibers, as well as hemp, which he described as a multi-purpose crop that offers materials and resources in multiple forms. Hemp stem biochar is also environmentally friendly, since it is made from plant waste and also helps return carbon to the soil to help other plants grow. Hemp has been proven to be twice as effective as forests in capturing atmospheric carbon and at the same time provides carbon-free biomaterials to architects and designers. Using hemp concrete instead of high-emission concrete (1 pound of concrete %3, 1 pound of CO) can further reduce total CO2 emissions. The farm grows industrial hemp organically, which further reduces emissions compared to conventional agriculture, where between 30 and 40 percent of emissions come from fertilizers and pesticides. The thorns, which are the woody inner part of the stem, can be used to make hemp concrete, an insulating and filling material for walls that does not support loads.

All plants have the capacity to sequester carbon and industrial hemp could be the king of carbon sequestration since it can absorb twice as much as a typical forest. There is no standard for carbon sequestration from hemp yet but companies like Hemp Blockchain based in the US are working on it. They seek to “track and trace hemp at all stages of production, from seed to final product”.

Tamara Lutze
Tamara Lutze

General travel nerd. Incurable zombie ninja. Infuriatingly humble food fanatic. Freelance beer lover. Unapologetic travel specialist.

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