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Maryam Nematian

Environmental Systems

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense


"Biochar and Climate Change Mitigation: Economic Models and Regional Impacts"


   This research adopts a comprehensive approach that covers various dimensions of biochar. First, it emphasizes the necessity of shifting from the environmentally harmful practice of crop residue open burning to the more sustainable avenue of biochar production. Through a techno-economic analysis, the study reveals the range of production costs under uncertainty.
   Second, the study underscores the significance of regional economic assessments for biochar projects. Recognizing the lack of a dedicated industry classification for biochar, innovative methodologies are employed to estimate the direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts of biochar production in Central Valley, California. The findings demonstrate the creation of new employment opportunities, increased labor income, and a positive contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This underscores the necessity for greater investments in the promising biochar sector.
   Third, the thesis highlights the critical importance of selecting the appropriate discount rate when evaluating biochar projects, particularly with a focus on climate change mitigation potentials. Two environmental-economic discounting models are used, one rooted in a modified Ramsey formula and the other in the Consumption Capital Asset Pricing Model. These models yield distinct discount rates. A recommendation for integrating both discount rates into the biochar cost-benefit analysis for a comprehensive and accurate assessment is provided.
   In summary, this thesis addresses biochar economics from different perspectives, namely its economic evaluation, its vital role in addressing climate change, and its regional impact. The outcomes confirm the feasibility of transitioning towards a circular bioeconomy, highlight the regional economic benefits associated with biochar production, and propose a discounting framework to ensure precise project evaluation.

   Maryam Nematian is a Ph.D. candidate in the Environmental Systems Graduate Group at UC Merced. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and a Master's degree in Environmental Engineering. Her academic journey has been driven by a strong interest in the intersection of environmental economics, climate justice, and sustainability. In her doctoral research, Maryam is actively engaged in exploring these critical subjects to contribute to a better understanding of the environmental challenges we face and potential solutions.


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