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Can charred coconut keep Maldives from submerging?

Archipelago country vulnerable to rising seas partners with U.K.-based Carbon Gold to produce biochar from coconut shells.

Invest Maldives/Republic of Maldives

The Republic of Maldives has signed a partnership with a tech company to develop biochar for its soils, both parties announced this week.

Biochar, a method of carbon capture and storage, is typically produced by heating biomass in a kiln until it turns into a manmade charcoal. That biochar can then be buried to enrich soil for agriculture. In some cases, biochar can be used as fuel.

The deal with U.K.-based Carbon Gold is part of the Maldives' plans to be carbon-neutral by 2020.

With the help of Carbon Gold, the Maldives will manufacture biochar from woody biomass, including coconut shells, for use in its own soil. As part of the deal, Carbon Gold will also launch an informational campaign directed at Maldivians on the benefits of using biochar rather than imported fertilizers to enhance soil quality for agriculture.

"The Maldives is already adversely affected by climate change so I warmly welcome this relationship with Carbon Gold. Biochar has a crucial role in helping us achieve carbon neutral status as well as providing an economic and environmental boost to our people," Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed said in a statement.

Though not a very powerful player on the global carbon stage, the Republic of Maldives is significant for being at the front line of climate change. If the Earth warms and seas rise as predicted, scientists believe the Indian Ocean archipelago country will be the first to go under water.