Yara Carbon Footprint Q&A

What is a “carbon footprint”?

In this context the “carbon footprint” means the combined greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of a fertilizer during its production.

Why doesn’t Yara climate brand all fertilizers worldwide? Why just Scandinavia?

Our initiative was inspired by our own concern for climate change and Sweden’s climate labeling initiative. We anticipate climate labeling of food will increase customer’s awareness, and if the campaign is successful in the Nordic countries we will go for a more international approach.

Does the ambitious goal on reduced emissions lead to increased costs for farmers, and hence more expensive food?

It is actually the opposite when using Yara fertilizers based on our crop nutrition programmes and application tools, which aim to improve Nitrogen efficiency, crop quality, and yield. This can even decrease the cost of crop cultivation. The improved efficiency will certainly not contribute to more expensive food.

How does this benefit the farmers?

When using Yara fertilizers according to the crop programmes and advice given by Yara, farmers can be sure they produce maximum yields with the minimum impact on climate and environment and they are able to prove this.

How does this become profitable for Yara (and your shareholders)?

Swedish studies have shown that 60% of consumers are already climate aware. This increased awareness will put pressure to food industries and agricultural producers to deliver food according to climate standards. Yara’s carbon footprint declaration gives us a leading position in these market conditions, making it possible for food producers to deliver what consumers pay for.

How many tonnes of CO2-eqiuvalents do Yara emit annually?

In 2009 Yara emitted 37% less GHG than in 2004, while increasing the fertilizer production. Total emissions were 12.5 million tons of CO2 eqv.

Yara emits millions of tones of GHG every year, yet you brand yourselves as climate friendly. Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

Through our knowledge the carbon footprint of crop production can now be reduced by up to 50% compared to conventional practices in 2006. For fertilizers imported for instance from Russia, where the energy consumption is higher per ton of fertilizer produced and where technology for N2O reductions has not yet been implemented, the GHG emissions per ton of fertilizer is more than double compared to Yara’s fertilizer.

Lots of energy is used for making nitrogen fertilizers. How can you defend this in a world where we have to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions?

Yes, it is correct that fertilizer production is energy intensive. However, it should be recognized that the energy we use for fertilizer production is reproduced 10-15 times by the growth of biomass made possible by the application of fertilizer. In effect, fertilizers act as a catalyst for capturing clean solar energy in the biomass (by the photosynthesis). Using a popular expression, we could say that Yara is a major solar energy company.

Fertilizers cause climate warming, why not limit its usage in general?

Half the world’s population live on food produced by fertilizers. World population is growing and agricultural land per capita is decreasing. We need to focus on improved agricultural efficiency, increasing food security and combating climate change simultaneously. Fertilizers play a crucial role in increased agricultural efficiency. The alternative is turning forests and wetland into cropland, which leads to very high GHG emissions.

Shouldn't farmers go for organic for better climate friendliness?

Organic agriculture is often perceived as a closed system, but as its production is consumed, the plant nutrients removed with the yield must be replaced from outside sources, which are limited and therefore restrict yields severely. The lower yields from organic farming means increased pressure on our remaining forests and wetlands.

What happens with the N2O after being captured by the catalyst?

Pure Nitrogen and Oxygen is formed. This is what air is made of.

How much does the cleaning cost?

Yara spent more than NOK 200 million on research and development on our catalyst solution, which is currently being used in approximately half of all Clean Development Mechanism projects (under the UN Kyoto Protocol) in nitric acid plants worldwide.

BAT in Europe emits 3,6 kg, yet Yara guarantees 4 kg. This isn’t very ambitious, is it? Why isn’t your guarantee lower?

There is a 4 kg limit in Sweden in order to obtain a climate label for food. AN fertilizer producers not using BAT emits close to 8 kg CO2-eqv per kg Nitrogen. Our guarantee is based on the Swedish labeling limits, which actually demands that emissions are cut in half.

What does 4 kg CO2-equivalents per kg nitrogen mean in practice?

Yara guarantees that the greenhouse gas emissions from the production of AN-based fertilizers is reduced by 50% compared to factories not using modern GHG abatement technology.

Will your carbon footprint guarantee trigger regulations which will limit the competition in the fertilizer market?

Yara supports open markets and competition. We supply fertilizers with a carbon footprint because we believe it is both useful and demanded in the Nordic markets.

Couldn't Yara guarantee all the products it is selling under its brand (imported from third party)?

Yara will not be able to give guarantees for others. Yara carbon footprint is verified by an independent third party, Det Norske Veritas. Yara supports application of this initiative internationally, though. We also promote our efficient catalyst technology to be used by fertilizer producers worldwide.