National | Media Release

Agricultural GHG Emissions, A Comprehensive Analysis: New NFU report

SASKATOON, SK—The National Farmers Union (NFU) today released the Third Edition of its report: Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Canada: A Comprehensive Assessment. The most detailed report of its kind, it subdivides Canadian agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and soil-carbon changes into 42 categories and includes analyses and data sources.

Please see the graph below for an indication of the detail contained in this NFU report.

The report is available at:

Key findings include:

  1. Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Canadian agriculture and the production of agricultural inputs are rising: up 41 percent since 1990, from 58.6 million tonnes (Mt) carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year in 1990 to 82.6 Mt CO2e per year in 2021.
  2. Rising emissions from nitrogen fertilizer production and use are one factor driving up overall emissions. The tonnage of nitrogen fertilizer applied each year has doubled since 1990.
  3. Rising emissions from fossil-fuel use also contribute to increasing total emissions. Emissions from on-farm diesel fuel use have doubled since 1990.
  4. Soil carbon sequestration is also high, averaging about 22 Mt CO2e in recent years as several on-farm practices combine to increase the flow of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into soils.

The NFU’s forty-four-page report is based on data from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

NFU Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action Darrin Qualman prepared the report. He commented: “Agriculture is much like every other sector of the Canadian economy: as a result of market forces and relatively inexpensive fossil fuels over the past century, we’ve adopted high-emission practices. But also like other sectors, there are many, many steps we can take to reduce those emissions.”

Qualman noted the beginning of a change: “Just three years ago, governments gave little attention to agricultural emissions and little support to farmers who wanted to reduce their emissions. There were few government programs and little funding. Now, we are beginning to see new targets, policies, programs, and incentives.

As the NFU report states: “To properly plan and implement the many on-farm changes needed to achieve emissions reductions and to design and fund the government programs needed to accelerate and support those on-farm changes, farmers and policymakers need to understand emissions: we need detailed, comprehensive numbers.  …  [But] clear, accessible, complete analyses and graphs are often lacking. This report is a contribution to filling that gap.”


For more information:

Darrin Qualman, Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action
(306) 230-9115