Event Discussion: Nitrogen, climate change and food (Oct 16)

Today’s discussion attempted to:

  • Highlight nitrogen’s role in the food system and its links to climate change
  • Show how and why the food system is a major source of N2O emissions, highlighting particular foods whose production is responsible for particularly heavy impacts
  • Highlight nitrogen’s other environmental impacts (e.g. eutrophication, ammonia)
  • Discuss the pros and cons of the main forms in which nitrogen is delivered to soils - mineral fertiliser, manure, composts and legumes
  • Consider the very different nitrogen requirements and concerns in the context of different countries - e.g. Sub Saharan Africa and the Netherlands.
  • Consider the challenges and the solutions in the context of climate mitigation and our wider SDG goals. What are the options for reducing nitrogen emissions, both in terms of technical solutions and in the context of our overall goals for food system transformation? Do we need to apply, more, less or differently and where? How does dietary change fit in? And why do people disagree about how (and through what forms) we should meet our nitrogen needs while addressing our environmental problems?

What did you find useful in the event? What remaining questions do you have?