Marine nitrous oxide emissions: An unknown liability for the international water sector
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2013

Reliable estimates of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are essential for setting effective climate policy at both the sector and national level. Current IPCC Guidelines for calculating nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from sewage management are both highly uncertain and incomplete; a major methodological gap relates to the calculation of indirect N2O emissions from sewage disposed to marine environments. Here we apply a novel approach to estimate past and future global sewage-nitrogen emissions to coastal oceans and the potential marine N2O emissions linked to this nitrogen source. Then, by estimating the future cost associated with this largely uncharacterized emission source, we demonstrate the industry significance of developing a methodology for estimating N2O emissions from marine receiving environments. The capacity to accurately estimate, monitor and report GHG emissions has important consequences for informing future policy decisions regarding both mitigation and adaptation. A robust N2O emissions estimation methodology for sewage-nitrogen disposed to coastal oceans will allow the international water sector to more accurately and comprehensively inventory its N2O emissions. This will in turn allow for proper accounting of related future emissions liabilities while also enabling the sector to capitalize on any future economic returns linked to this source – providing much-needed capital to support the sector’s future infrastructure and climate change adaptation challenges.

Carbon emissions liability

Marine nitrous oxide emission factor

Emissions inventory


Greenhouse gas emissions crediting

Coastal zone

Urban water sector


Michael Short

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Gregory Peters

Chalmers, Kemi- och bioteknik, Kemisk miljövetenskap

William Peirson

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

NJ Ashbolt

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Science and Policy

1462-9011 (ISSN)

Vol. 33 209-221


Hållbar utveckling


Building Futures (2010-2018)



Oceanografi, hydrologi, vattenresurser





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