Why it matters

The potential impacts from climate-related risks are significant to Nutrien and have been identified as a top environmental, social and governance (ESG) concern by our stakeholders. We are focused not only on reducing the carbon footprint of our fertilizer production (primarily nitrogen), but also partnering with growers to sustainably increase crop yields while reducing in-field GHG emissions and sequestering more carbon in the soil.

Our work on climate change supports the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

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Our approach

Primary emissions sources along Nutrien's value chain

Fertilizer production and use have complex and conflicting impacts on GHG emissions across the agricultural value chain. Fertilizer is critical for healthy crops, enhancing soil organic carbon (the level of carbon that is directly tied to the level of organic matter in the soil) and increasing yields, which helps to feed our growing population with the same amount of arable land, but nitrogen fertilizer also generates GHG emissions during production and when it is applied to the soil.

Emissions released during production

Although we operate across the crop input value chain and produce many products, the manufacturing of fertilizer (nitrogen, potash and phosphate) accounts for approximately 95 percent of our company-wide direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2) emissions. Direct emissions are generated on site, from burning natural gas and other fuels, or from processes at our operations. Indirect emissions are from the off-site generation of purchased electricity, steam and heat.

Scope 1 and 2 assessment

Nutrien reports our emissions following the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard on an operational control basis. KPMG LLP provided limited assurance over our 2021 GHG emissions and their assurance report can be found below. To understand Nutrien’s calculation methodology for reported Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions, please see our GHG Inventory Management Plan, also linked below.

Emissions released by using fertilizers

GHG emissions from fertilizer occur with nitrogen-containing fertilizers (as well as from organic sources of nitrogen). Nitrous oxide is the GHG of primary concern, although some carbon dioxide is also directly emitted from urea forms of nitrogen. For Nutrien, these emissions are significant as approximately 45 percent of the fertilizer we sell to our growers is nitrogen-based and has the potential to produce GHG emissions. 

Fertilizer management practices are an important way that nitrous oxide emissions can be reduced and this is one of the reasons why agronomists and field experts at Nutrien provide farmers with nutrient management planning advice. Learn more about Nutrien's Carbon Program, which is designed to support the advancement of a carbon asset market for the agricultural industry through soil carbon sequestration and reduced GHG emissions.

Scope 3 assessment

Scope 3 includes indirect GHG emissions other than those covered in Scope 2. We completed a preliminary assessment of our Scope 3 emissions inventory and determined that the most material emissions in this scope were: emissions from purchased goods and services (category 1), capital goods (category 2), upstream fuel- and energy-related activities (category 3) and use of sold products, mostly through fertilizer application (category 11). We continue to further refine our Scope 3 estimate and develop our understanding to better realize opportunities related to reducing these emissions.

In our preliminary analysis, downstream emissions related to the use of sold products (category 11) represent approximately 70 percent of our total Scope 3 emissions. We are working with external GHG accounting experts and internal subject matter experts to produce a refined quantification method that better represents the scope and nature of our operations and is aligned with accepted principles for GHG accounting. We are also working with growers through the Carbon Program to better understand and quantify potential emissions reductions through nitrogen management.

Upstream Scope 3 GHG emissions are also an important contributor to Nutrien’s Scope 3 emissions, specifically those related to purchased goods and services, capital goods and upstream fuel- and energy-related activities (categories 1 to 3). We are working with supply chain partners to better understand their impact on our Scope 3 emissions and finding opportunities to reduce their carbon footprints.

Reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions

We believe a combination of strategies will be needed to meet society’s decarbonization goals. Our reduction plans include activities to reduce the direct GHG emissions at our manufacturing facilities and the indirect emissions from purchased energy, such as steam and electricity, while reducing other material emissions that are upstream and downstream of our operations.

Nutrien is exploring multiple opportunities for the responsible development of low-carbon ammonia and derivative fertilizers. We have dedicated support to the development of clear and transparent certification of low- and zero-carbon ammonia.

Science-based targets and frameworks

Supporting sectoral decarbonization and global goals: Nutrien is committed to GHG emissions reduction and supports the goals of the Paris Agreement. This is demonstrated through our commitment to the Science Based Targets initiative (“SBTi”). To set a science-based target, Nutrien has engaged with the WBCSD and industry peers to develop a Sectoral Decarbonization Approach (“SDA”). An SDA is one of three possible methods for setting a science-based target. The role of nitrogen in food production, soil health and optimizing land use are unique attributes differentiating nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing from other chemical industries and need to be considered as part of the SDA process. Nutrien is also actively analyzing a pathway for low-carbon nitrogen fertilizer production.

We have used the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework to report on our climate strategy and performance. Read our TCFD disclosures on page 94-106 of our 2022 ESG Report. To learn more see our CDP Climate Questionnaire. Both are linked below.

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Our work on climate change supports the following area of focus

2030 commitments: environment and climate action

Dive into our performance

ESG Targets

ESG Report

Data Tool