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Nitrogen Fertiliser Production Exceeds Planetary Boundaries

A new report published by NGO Planet Tracker has warned that nitrogen fertiliser usage is outstripping planetary boundaries two-fold, contributing up to 5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Fertilisers are inefficiently used, the report said, noting that only 30-35% of fertilisers applied are being taken up by plants. Most of it is flowing into water sources, where it can poison marine life and cause significant economic consequences due to issues such as algal blooms, Planet Tracker said. Financial markets have been urged to review their portfolios for potential fertiliser use inefficiencies and push for increasing industry efficiencies to meet the demands of the Global Biodiversity Framework, which pledges to reduce nutrient losses in the environment by 50% by 2030. Chris Baldock, Head of Data Methodology at Planet Tracker, said: “Nitrogen-based fertiliser is a crucial input to the US$14 trillion global food system, as well as being essential for maintaining food security. The nitrogen industry that supplies it, however, is in urgent need of change. We are calling on investors to be a proactive part of this process and push for change across the whole value chain, assessing their portfolio companies for nitrogen and fertiliser-related risks. A better, more equitable system for distributing and producing fertilisers could have significant economic benefits.” 

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