UN IPCC states that nitrous oxide (N2O) is 298 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas

March 29th, 2010

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas which has been calculated to have 298 times the global warming potential of CO2 over a 100 year period.

In the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report (2007), Chapter 2, “Changes in Atmospheric Constituents and Radiative Forcing,” (PDF) the GWP figures for nitrous oxide (and other GHGs) are given.

Table 2.14 of the AR (assessment report)  entitled “Lifetimes, radiative efficiencies and direct (except for CH4) GWPs (global warming potentials) relative to CO2″ shows that N2O has a GWP  of 289 for 20 years, 298 for 100 years, and 153 for a 500 year period.

The report states:

“Human activities result in emissions of four principal greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and the halocarbons (a group of gases containing fluorine, chlorine and bromine). These gases accumulate in the atmosphere, causing concentrations to increase with time. Significant increases in all of these gases have occurred in the industrial era. All of these increases are attributable to human activities.”

Also, according to the UN FAO report “Livestock’s long shadow”:

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 per cent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.”

It further states that:

“Livestock activities contribute substantially to the emission of nitrous oxide, the most potent of the three major greenhouse gases. They contribute almost two-thirds of all anthropogenic N2O emissions, and 75–80 percent of agricultural emissions.”

Source: Changes in Atmospheric Constituents and Radiative Forcing (PDF) – UN IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (2007), Chapter 2, Table 2.14

Date: 2007

Source: Livestock’s Long Shadow (UN FAO) ~ Full Report (Figure given in Table 3.12, Page 113)

Date: 29 November 2006

Source: Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns – UN News Centre

Date: 29 November 2006

  • Dazzel Mohammed Mutya Buena

    What makes N20 worse than CO2?