COP 26 Rediscovering Nitrogen Event
The "Rediscovering Nitrogen" side-event at COP26 will have discussions on how action on nitrogen is an imperative step to help meet climate goals along with multiple co-benefits for environment, health and economy. With high-level statements from H.E. the President of Sri Lanka, UK government, Scottish government, the Commonwealth and others, there will be an exchange of ideas on options for action ahead of COP26.
The event will launch the #Nitrogen4NetZero proposal for COP26 brought forward by the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP), reflecting work with its member countries through 2021. #Nitrogen4NetZero is a developing international initiative that highlights the need for sustainable nitrogen management as part of climate change mitigation and adaptation. The key message is that Net Zero will be impossible to achieve without action on nitrogen.
The event theme reflects the upcoming 250-year anniversary of the scientific discovery of nitrogen in Scotland. It offers a key moment to now 'rediscover nitrogen' for climate and environmental action.
This momentous event in Glasgow is a great opportunity to help raise awareness on nitrogen and also for SANH to help have an impact on nitrogen policy globally. Hence, it marks the opportunity to embrace action on nitrogen as one of the world’s great environmental challenges. Furthermore, it heralds a ‘new enlightenment on the significance of carbon and nitrogen interactions.
How is SANH Contributing?
This event is hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka and the “International Nitrogen Management System” (INMS), in partnership with the “GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub” (SANH), the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH).
The aim of the event is to bring awareness to COP 26 delegates on the importance of nitrogen in reaching net zero.
SANH is providing administrative and logistical support along with helping in conducting the event efficiently. Some of the members of SANH are key speakers in the event. SANH scientists are providing scientific and policy information for the attendees through speakers as well as a two-page science brief. The chairperson of this event Julie Fitzpatrick is from SANH partner, Moredun Research Institute.
The relation of COP26 Campaigns and Science Themes
COP26 includes three major science themes were #Nitrogen4NetZero is equally relevant:
Visions for Net Zero. The initiative builds on UK nitrogen science leadership with the UN, showing how sustainable nitrogen management is essential to reach Net Zero.
Health. Sustainable nitrogen management offers benefits for health by reducing air and water pollution and stratospheric ozone depletion.
Climate Risk Assessment. Nitrogen feedbacks affect the climate system. For example, reducing nitrogen air pollution (NOx, NH3, PM2.5) for health has a climate penalty that must be addressed alongside reducing emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O).
More information can be found at:
Key messages from the SANH Members who will attend the meeting:
“From my perspective, we are aiming to rediscover nitrogen for environment and climate change. It is coming up for the 250-year anniversary of the discovery of the element nitrogen by Daniel Rutherford in Scotland. His M.D. thesis which was published in 1772, where he provides the existence of Mephitic or Malignant Air, the substance we now know as di-nitrogen gas (N2).
It is with this in mind that we are organizing the “Rediscovering Nitrogen” side event with the Government of Sri Lanka. With H.E. the President of Sri Lanka as the keynote speaker, we are aiming for this as a key moment for the world to discover that managing climate change is not just about carbon. We will need action on the nitrogen cycle too if we are to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and the other impacts of nitrogen on climate. At the same time, nitrogen management has to be central to adaptation strategies if we are to feed the world’s population without worsening climate impacts.
This means that managing the world’s nitrogen cycle differently offers a whole host of co-benefits for air and water quality, biodiversity, health, food security and circular economy too!”
“Without combatting climate change, my grandchildren can’t look into the future with any hope. climate change is urgent and we need to take action. I’m hoping to see results from COP26 that will make a real difference, across the globe. I’m also keen to play my part in the campaign to get decision-makers at all levels to take nitrogen pollution seriously, and I hope that the research we have been doing in SANH to raise awareness in South Asia will begin to bear fruit in Glasgow.”
“It is crucial that we tackle the threat of climate change now, to ensure our planet’s future. COP26 is our opportunity to make real progress towards creating a cleaner, greener world for our future generations.
Nitrogen is essential to life and is a vital nutrient for plant growth, however, its natural cycle has been drastically altered by our activities. Nitrogen pollution is a growing threat to our ecosystems and health. We must act now to address the problem of nitrogen pollution.”
“I am excited about COP26 as it brings the world’s attention to the global climate emergency plus this year it is in my home country. The IPPC called ‘code red’ for humanity this year emphasizing that this is our final chance to take meaningful action to stop the catastrophic effects of climate change. I hope this year’s events catalyse transformative change across the world not only in how we tackle the climate emergency but how we also deal with the ecosystem emergency where 1 million species face extinction.
Nitrogen is key to the COP 26 discussions. Nitrogen pollution directly impacts the climate as a greenhouse gas, with N2O having a global warming potential about 300 times higher than CO2. Nitrogen pollution also impacts the water, air, ecosystem and soil and by doing so reduces the earth’s ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The point is an integrated approach is necessary to tackle the climate emergency and if we are to be successful in these goals sustainable nitrogen management is a necessity.”