By Rod Nickel and Rithika Krishna
(Reuters) -Canada's Nutrien Ltd, the world's largest fertilizer producer by capacity, said on Thursday it aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% by 2030, in a plan costing the company up to $700 million.
Agricultural companies, including Mosaic and Corteva, have set carbon emissions targets as climate-conscious investors push firms to become more environmentally friendly.
Nutrien plans to spend $500 million to $700 million to meet the carbon emissions target, which includes cutting emissions from nitrogen production by 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by the end of 2023.
"We're in a really unique spot to address two big societal challenges - food security, and in a way that reduces our environmental footprint," said Mark Thompson, Nutrien's chief corporate development and strategy officer, in an interview.
Synthetic fertilizers account for 12% of global emissions from agriculture, according to a 2016 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report.
Nutrien's target includes Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which reflect direct operations and electricity use. Nutrien is addressing Scope 3 emissions - those related to on-farm activity - with a program that encourages growers to adopt sustainable practices that generate monetary credits.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company plans to deploy wind and solar energy at four potash plants by the end of 2025, replacing electricity generated by coal and natural gas.
It also plans to expand its sequestration of carbon emissions from nitrogen fertilizer production and to invest in technology to capture nitrous oxide gas from its facilities.
Nutrien estimates that its carbon credit program could directly amount to $10 to $20 per acre for farmers, and it expects to benefit financially itself as well.
"If we can provide agronomic value and the value of the carbon credit over time, we'll have customer loyalty - we anticipate that we'll be a preferred supplier," Thompson said.
(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Steve Orlofsky)