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Navigating the Path to Low-Carbon Agriculture: McKinsey's Study

Ammonia production is recognized as one of the most emissions-intensive commodities, with direct CO2 emissions being nearly twice as high as crude steel production and four times that of cement on a per tonne basis1. About 70 percent of global ammonia is used in the production of fertilizers. 

Furthermore, the full life cycle of fertilizers is responsible for approximately 5% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. It's estimated that manure and synthetic fertilizers emit the equivalent of 2.6 gigatonnes of carbon per year, which is more than the global aviation and shipping industries combined2

In a recent comprehensive study by McKinsey & Company, titled "From Green Ammonia to Lower-Carbon Foods," the consultancy firm delves deep into the transformative strategies and innovations that could significantly reduce the carbon footprint within the agriculture sector. 

Some of the key findings from their study are summarized here.

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What is green ammonia?

As opposed to traditional ammonia, referred to as gray ammonia, that mainly is produced from fossil fuels, green ammonia is produced with hydrogen (which is produced from renewable energy sources). The hydrogen produced is then combined with nitrogen extracted from the air using the Haber-Bosch process. Thus, creating green ammonia without the associated carbon footprint from traditional hydrogen sources. 

Lower-Carbon Foods

The transition to green ammonia and lower-carbon foods offers dual benefits: it contributes to environmental sustainability and opens avenues for economic growth within the agriculture sector. This transition is seen as an essential step towards meeting the increasing global food demand in a more eco-friendly manner.

This impact of green ammonia as a fertilizer means having lower-carbon food products and helps achieving a more sustainable food system. 

A Call for Action

McKinsey's report serves as a call to action for the agriculture industry, policymakers, and consumers alike to embrace sustainable practices. By highlighting the potential of green ammonia and lower-carbon foods, it outlines a hopeful vision for a more sustainable agricultural future.

Proba's Role in Supporting Sustainable Agriculture

The insights from McKinsey's study align with Proba's mission to decarbonize the supply chain in the agricultural and chemical sectors. By facilitating the issuance of carbon credits, innovators in the industry can improve the business case of their new products and practices and accelerate transition to a more sustainable future.

Innovation is key

The "From Green Ammonia to Lower-Carbon Foods" study by McKinsey & Company offers valuable insights into how we can transform to a more sustainable industry, also in food and agri. It shows the importance of innovation and the critical role of more sustainable practices.

For further details, we encourage you to explore McKinsey's full study, which you can find here: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/agriculture/our-insights/from-green-ammonia-to-lower-carbon-foods


1 https://www.iea.org/reports/ammonia-technology-roadmap/executive-summary 

2 https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/carbon-emissions-from-fertilisers-could-be-reduced-by-as-much-as-80-by-2050