At the boundary between anthropogenic and environmental systems: the neglected emissions of indirect nitrous oxide

  • Arnaud HéliasEmail author


Nitrous oxide (N2O) is the third most important greenhouse gas (GHG) after carbon dioxide and methane. Its emissions must be quantified and even more so for agricultural activities, which are the main human interventions in the global nitrogen cycle. This paper focuses on how life cycle assessment (LCA) deals with this gas. It discusses what is included in the inventory of activities and what is included in the impact assessment and shows the inconsistency of modelling between agricultural and non-agricultural activities.

To address this topic, it is necessary to begin by presenting the general structure of the assessment. The availability of a simple carbon footprint measurement has become one of the key tools for stakeholders to develop awareness of climate change issues. Due to the complexity of the mechanisms relating human activities and climate change, the modelling strategy can be planned in two steps: first, the “carbon footprint practitioners” model anthropogenic...



The author thanks his colleagues A. Benoist, C. Bessou, L. Lardon, and P. Roux for the fruitful discussions that led to this article. He is grateful to the ecoinvent Centre for providing the unit version of the database. The anonymous reviewer is warmly thanked for his valuable comments that helped improving this paper.

Supplementary material

11367_2018_1564_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (689 kb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 689 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LBE, INRA, Montpellier SupAgroUniv MontpellierNarbonneFrance
  2. 2.Elsa, Research group for Environmental Life cycle and Sustainability AssessmentMontpellierFrance
  3. 3.Chair of Sustainable EngineeringTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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