Nitrogen, climate change and food: showing the connections
Nitrogen is essential to life – it is a building block of amino acids and therefore proteins, and it’s essential for soils and for growing food. Nitrogen, whether delivered in the form of mineral fertiliser, manure, compost or via the incorporation of nitrogen fixing legumes in crop rotations, is an essential input into agricultural production.

At the same time, nitrogen is a potent greenhouse gas, responsible for around 6% of global warming. When it comes to the food system, its contribution is more significant still, at around 16% of overall food related global warming (Tubiello F N et al 2021 Environ. Res. Lett. 16 065007). Its negative effects don’t end there however: surplus nitrogen pollutes soils, water and air, damaging fragile aquatic and land based ecosystems and causing multiple harm to human health.

Moreover, nitrogen’s impacts can be felt on different scales, making it an issue for local policy makers as well as for the global community. While nitrous oxide, as a greenhouse gas, is a problem affecting the whole world, other concerns are more context-specific. Some countries and farm systems suffer from the problems of excess nitrogen, including eutrophication and ammonia emissions, while others suffer from its insufficiency, the result being poor yields and hunger. So how can we get the balance right? How can we manage nitrogen at both the global and the local level in ways that minimise its harms while meeting our need for safe, nutritious food? Join TABLE for a panel discussion in which we explore nitrogen’s role and its links to climate change and consider the challenges and solutions. More information here:
Date: 16 October 2023, 17:00 (Monday, 2nd week, Michaelmas 2023)
Venue: Venue to be announced
Speakers: Dr Tara Garnett (Director, TABLE), Ken Giller (Wageningen University & Research), Rasmus Einarsson (Swedish Agricultural University), Pauline Chivenge (International Rice Research Institute)
Organising department: Environmental Change Institute
Organiser: Jacquelyn Turner (TABLE, University of Oxford)
Organiser contact email address:
Host: Jacquelyn Turner (TABLE, University of Oxford)
Booking required?: Required
Booking url:
Audience: Public
Editors: Sophie Hockley, Jacquelyn Turner