Nitrogen use efficiency in Scotland: annual report 2023

First annual report under section 5(1)(c) of the Climate Change (Nitrogen Balance Sheet) (Scotland) Regulations 2022, and complements the latest published version of the Nitrogen Balance Sheet for the year 2020.

How nitrogen use efficiency is expected to contribute to the achievement of future emissions reduction targets

Nitrous oxide (N2O), which is a greenhouse gas, amounts to around 7.8 kt N / yr of these total emissions. The majority of nitrous oxide emissions come from agriculture (5.5 kt N / yr) with other contributions from land use and land use change (1.5 kt N / yr) and more minor ones from industry, transport and waste processing. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential (i.e. conversion factor to carbon dioxide equivalent) of 298. Scottish greenhouse gas emissions statistics for 2020 show that the 7.8 kt of N in the nitrous oxide emissions amounted to 3.7 Mt of CO2 equivalent, which represents 9.1% of Scotland's total greenhouse gas emissions for that year. This makes it the third most significant greenhouse gas, after CO2 itself (which represents 65.8% of the total) and methane (which represents 22.4% of the total).

Action to improve nitrogen efficiency can deliver a substantial contribution to the achievement of future emissions reduction targets through the actions outlined in this report. It is not possible at this stage to quantify the relative contributions that can be delivered from such actions but Nitrous Oxide emissions currently contribute around 9 % of total net GHG emissions which illustrates the contribution that current and future actions can potentially make to the achievement of future emissions reduction targets.

We are considering new opportunities to increase nitrogen use efficiency in the development of policies for the next Climate Change Plan to meet annual statutory emissions targets up to 2040 and to also contribute to the pathway to Net Zero by 2045. Further opportunities will be considered through the development of future strategies and plans for relevant sectors and will be outlined in future SNBS reports.



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