Human intervention is changing the nitrogen cycle worldwide and with increasing intensity. In Germany, about 4.2 million tonnes of reactive nitrogen are released annually - most of it in agriculture. But industry, the energy sector, transport and households also contribute to nitrogen emissions. Significant negative impacts on climate change, biodiversity and human health are the result. Environmental policies address certain aspects of the nitrogen problem within the framework of individual regulations, but a holistic view of the problem is still missing. Coordinating the different regulations therefore has great potential. In addition, however, existing measures and instruments need to be extended and supplemented, as they have not sufficiently reduced nitrogen emissions.
This project scientifically supported the strategic activities of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) in the development of a cross-departmental strategy to solve the nitrogen problem. To this end, the existing legal regulations were compiled and evaluated. Building on this, complementary measures and instruments for nitrogen reduction were assessed for their consistency, effectiveness, acceptability, enforceability and other economic criteria. Subsequently, a concept for the economic cost-benefit analysis was elaborated, cost rates for nitrogen-related environmental impacts determined and, in the context of a simplified estimation, the costs and benefits of the nitrogen problem assessed. A nitrogen strategy action programme will then be developed on this basis.
The project was carried out on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) by adelphi in cooperation with INFRAS and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). As project leader, adelphi ensured the integration of activities and coordination of the project partners as well as the organisation and implementation of various dialogue formats. In addition, adelphi collected and assessed instruments and measures for nitrogen reduction and, among other things, conducted cost-benefit analyses including a choice experiment to economically evaluate the selected detrimental effects on the environment caused by reactive nitrogen.