Dear Friends and Colleagues
Chemical fertilisers could be responsible for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the damage wreaked on waterways, soils and the ozone layer. Yet the fertiliser industry has positioned chemical fertilisers as a solution to climate change, under the banner of “climate smart agriculture”, according to a new report by GRAIN entitled "The Exxons of Agriculture”.
The Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture was launched last year at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change. Of the Alliance's 29 non-governmental founding members, there are three fertiliser industry lobby groups, two of the world's largest fertiliser companies (Yara of Norway and Mosaic of the US), and a handful of organisations working directly with fertiliser companies on climate change programmes. Today, 60% of the private sector members of the Alliance are from the fertiliser industry.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that for every 100 kg of nitrogen fertiliser applied to the soil, one kilogram ends up in the atmosphere as nitrous oxide (N2O), a gas that is 300 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas and is the world's most significant ozone-depleting substance. New research shows that the use of chemical fertilisers this year will likely generate more GHG emissions than the total emissions from all of the cars and trucks driven in the US.
The paper therefore calls for an urgent reassessment of the contribution of chemical fertilisers to climate change and for a paradigm shift to non-chemical fertiliser farming. The shift from chemical fertilisers to agroecological practices would allow farmers to rebuild organic matter in the world's soils, and thus capture a possible two-thirds of the current excess CO2 in the atmosphere within 50 years. There are also the added benefits of improved livelihoods for farmers, more nutritious foods, protection of the ozone layer and safe water systems.
The full paper can be accessed at https://www.grain.org/e/5270
With best wishes,