Published online: Aug 02, 2009
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The International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) recently released its white paper, Fertilizers, Climate Change and Enhancing Productivity Sustainably. The paper's objective is to provide a review of the fertilizer industry and its global impact, both positive and negative, on climate change. The industry advocates a life-cycle approach, encompassing fertilizer production, transport and use.
The fertilizer life-cycle accounts for 2 to 3 percent of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Yet, nitrogen fertilizers are estimated to contribute to feeding as much as half of the world's population. As agricultural production rises to meet food, feed, fibre and bioenergy demand worldwide, fertilizer use will also increase. Climate change creates an imperative for the fertilizer industry to contribute to mitigation and adaptation in order to achieve a more sustainable path to global food security. Increasing agricultural productivity, through efficient fertilizer use, is critical to prevent further deforestation, protect biodiversity and thus reduce the emissions level per unit of agricultural output.
Efforts by the fertilizer industry to take responsibility for its greenhouse gas emissions can only be fully effective if policymakers and other stakeholders, such as farmers, also play their part. The critical goals of protecting food security, reducing poverty and fighting climate change must coexist. The fertilizer industry, along with other members of civil society, calls on governments to include agriculture in the post-Kyoto negotiations that will take place in December in Copenhagen.