Canada has joined a global group to cut fertilizer emissions.

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay declared Canada as a “founding member” of the Efficient Fertilizer Consortium, an initiative spearheaded by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research. Canada joins a group of 11 other nations, including the United States and United Kingdom.

In his announcement, MacAulay pledged approximately $1.3 million over four years to support the public-private partnership aimed at funding research to curtail fertilizer emissions globally.

“By joining the Efficient Fertilizer Consortium, we’re helping ensure that our farmers and producers are well-equipped to make informed decisions that are good for the environment and their bottom line,” said MacAulay. 

“International collaboration is vitally important to addressing global food security and putting healthy and affordable food on tables right across Canada.”

Canada set a target in 2020 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with fertilizer use by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. However, questions have arisen regarding the feasibility of this target.

While the Canadian government insists the target is voluntary and doesn’t mandate farmers to reduce fertilizer use altogether, some researchers argue otherwise.

The University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy released a report criticizing the voluntary nature of the targets, pointing out that they fail to consider regional conditions and may jeopardize the economic viability of Canadian farmers. 

According to the report, achieving the 30% reduction target would necessitate drastic cuts in nitrogen fertilizer use.

Adding to the controversy, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada recently issued an apology for an error in a departmental results report. 

As exclusively reported by True North, the report incorrectly claimed that the ministry was working towards a “30% reduction of fertilizer use” in Canada. The ministry later admitted to the discrepancy and stated that the report would be revised to accurately reflect the government’s emission goals.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also sought to dispel what he called “misinformation” regarding the government’s intentions. At a recent town hall, Trudeau reassured the public that there was no plan to mandate a 30% reduction in fertilizer use, contrary to previous statements by Agriculture Canada representatives.

This incident is not the first time Agriculture Canada has confused its goals. 

Exclusive documents obtained by True North and reported in the Fertilizer Files indicate concerns raised by Fertilizer Canada representatives about a deputy minister suggesting a desire to “reduce fertilizer use” altogether. 

Internal AAFC documents also hint at the government contemplating a carbon tax-like “regulatory backstop” to enforce compliance with the emission reduction target.