Partager

Direction de l'Environnement

Human Acceleration of the Nitrogen Cycle

Managing Risks and Uncertainty

Published on November 20, 2018

Also available in: French

book
This publication examines the risks associated with the release of excessive nitrogen into the environment (climate change, depletion of the ozone layer, air pollution, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, deterioration of soil quality). The report also examines the uncertainty associated with the ability of nitrogen to move from one ecosystem to another and cause "cascading effects". In addition to better management of nitrogen risks at the local level, there is a need to consider the global risks associated with the continued increase in nitrous oxide concentrations and to prevent excess nitrogen in all its forms by developing cost-effective strategies for all its sources. Other than the reduction of nitrogen pollution, this report provides guidance on the use of nitrogen policy instruments and how to ensure coherence with objectives such as food security, energy security and environmental objectives.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword
Abbreviations
Executive summary
Why does nitrogen matter?
Proposed approach to address nitrogen pollution
Examples of impact-pathway analysis and its translation into policy-making
The unintended consequences on the nitrogen cycle of conservation practises in agriculture
Criteria to guide nitrogen policy making
An assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and feasibility of nitrogen policy instruments
Basic facts on nitrogen
Powered by OECD iLibrary

VIDEOS

We need to talk about nitrogen

Excess nitrogen pollutes air, soil and water, increases greenhouse gas emissions, and impacts biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Environmental policy measures have been taken to reduce the impacts of nitrogen on ecosystems and human health. However, while OECD nitrogen emissions have been reduced, the concentrations of nitrogen forms in air, soil and water still remain much too high overall. We need better mapping and understanding of the link between sources, pathways and impacts of nitrogen, that is impact-pathway analysis. Governments also need to establish national nitrogen budgets to make sure that policies to address local and global nitrogen impacts are reducing the overall quantities of excess nitrogen being released into the environment at the national level. Watch this video to learn more about the policy approaches to managing the risks and uncertainty of disrupting the nitrogen cycle.



Nitrogen pollution impacts

Excess nitrogen pollutes air, soil and water, increases greenhouse gas emissions, and impacts biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Environmental policy measures have been taken to reduce the impacts of nitrogen on ecosystems and human health. However, while OECD nitrogen emissions have been reduced, the concentrations of nitrogen forms in air, soil and water still remain much too high overall. Watch this video to learn more about the impacts of excess nitrogen on the environment, our health and the economy.



POLICY Highlights



Download the Policy Highlights (PDF) 

Contact

  • For more information, please contact Gérard Bonnis of the OECD Environment Directorate.

 

ENGAGE WITH US

  • To receive our Environment newsletter, sign up to MyOECD (choose "Environment" as an area of interest and tick "Environment News" under Newsletters).