India is the second largest emitter of nitrous oxide (N2O)

India is the second largest emitter of nitrous oxide (N2O)


India is the second largest emitter of nitrous oxide (N2O) globally, contributing nearly 11% of man-made N2O emissions in 2020, second only to China at 16%.

GS-03 (Environment)

Key highlights:

  • The primary source of N2O emissions in India is from fertilizer usage, as highlighted in a global assessment of N2O emissions published in Earth System Science Data.
  • In 2022, atmospheric N2O concentrations were about 25% higher than pre-industrial levels, indicating a significant increase over time.
  • Although carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are much higher, N2O remains a critical concern due to its longer atmospheric lifetime and rapid increase, necessitating urgent action alongside CO2 reduction efforts.
  • Agriculture, specifically nitrogen fertilizers and animal manure, accounted for 74% of global anthropogenic N2O emissions over the past decade, significantly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.


  • Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a greenhouse gas (GHG) that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • It has the third-highest concentration in the atmosphere among GHGs, after CO2 and methane (CH4).
  • N2O is the only remaining threat to the ozone layer, accumulating in the atmosphere similarly to CO2.
  • It can persist in the atmosphere for up to 125 years.
  • Global N2O concentration has increased from 270 parts per billion (ppb) in 1750 to 331 ppb in 2018, a 20% rise.
  • The fastest growth in N2O levels has occurred over the past five decades due to human activities.