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Greenhouse gas emissions and removals

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New Zealand’s greenhouse gas inventory is an annual account of all human-induced emissions and removals of greenhouse gases in New Zealand. The inventory is part of New Zealand’s obligations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

Direct greenhouse gases included in this inventory are:

  • carbon dioxide
  • methane
  • nitrous oxide
  • sulphur hexafluoride
  • hydrofluorocarbons
  • perfluorocarbons.

Greenhouse gas estimates are based on international guidance established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and follow an internationally agreed reporting format that groups emissions and removals into the following sectors:

  • energy (including transport)
  • industrial processes
  • solvents and other product-use
  • agriculture
  • land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)
  • waste.

Current situation

In 2007, New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions were 75.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e). This estimate excludes the emissions and removals from the LULUCF sector (net removals).

Removals and emissions by sector

In 2007, the agriculture sector was New Zealand’s largest source of emissions, contributing 48 per cent to total emissions. As a result, New Zealand has a unique emissions profile compared to other developed countries where agricultural emissions are typically around 11 per cent of national emissions.

The energy sector, including electricity generation, heat production and transportation was the source of 43 per cent of total emissions in 2007. The industrial processes sector accounted for 6 per cent and the waste sector accounted for 2 per cent of total emissions in 2007. A minor contributor to New Zealand’s total direct greenhouse gas emissions is the solvents and other products sector, as it accounted for 0.1 per cent of total emissions in 2007.

Removals and emissions of greenhouse gases in the LULUCF sector (net removals) amounted to 23.8 Mt CO2-e in 2007.  This estimate includes a provisional estimate for deforestation data.

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and removals by sector: 2007

Notes:
(1) LULUCF = Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry.
(2) Mt CO2-e = million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
(3) Includes the six direct greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs and SF6).
Source: Ministry for the Environment.

Emissions by gas

Carbon dioxide contributed the largest share of all 2007 emissions at 47 per cent. Methane contributed 35 per cent and nitrous oxide contributed 17 per cent of total emissions in 2007. Perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and hydrofluorocarbons accounted for the remaining 1 per cent (0.9 Mt CO2-e).

New Zealand’s gross greenhouse gas emissions by gas: 2007

Note: Mt CO2-e = million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Source: Ministry for the Environment.

Want to know more?

New Zealand's Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990 - 2007 has the latest information on greenhouse gas emissions and removals in New Zealand.

Recent trend

Between 2006 and 2007 emissions decreased by 2.0 Mt CO2-e (3 per cent) - this was due to two major factors. The first was a drought throughout the summer and autumn of 2007/2008. The drought affected many New Zealand regions, leading to reduced livestock numbers and productivity. The second factor was the commissioning of Genesis Energy’s combined cycle gas turbine at Huntly and the corresponding reduction in coal-fired electricity generation.

Long term trend

Total greenhouse gas emissions and removals

Total emissions in 2007 were 22 per cent higher (13.7 Mt CO2-e) than the 1990 level of 61.9 Mt CO2-e. New Zealand’s net removals from the LULUCF sector increased 31 per cent (5.7 Mt CO2-e) from the 1990 level of 18.1 Mt CO2-e.

New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions and removals, 1990–2007

New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions and removals, 1990–2007

Notes: (1) Mt CO2 = million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
(2) LULUCF = Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry.
(3) Includes the six direct greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs and SF6).
Source: Ministry for the Environment.

Emissions by sector

Agricultural emissions in 2007 had increased 12 per cent (3.9 Mt CO2-e) from the 1990 level of 32.5 Mt CO2-e.

Energy emissions in 2007 had increased 39 per cent (9.2 Mt CO2-e) from the 1990 level of 23.5 Mt CO2-e. This growth in emissions was primarily from electricity generation, heat production and transport.

Emissions from the industrial processes sector in 2007 had increased 35 per cent (1.2 Mt CO2-e) from the 1990 level of 3.4 Mt CO2-e. The increase was mainly due to growth in emissions from increased metal production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons.

Emissions from the waste sector in 2007 had decreased 25 per cent (0.6 Mt CO2-e) from a 1990 level of 2.4 Mt CO2-e. This decrease was due to initiatives to improve solid waste management practices in New Zealand.

New Zealand greenhouse gas emissions by sector: 1990 - 2007

New Zealand greenhouse gas emissions by sector: 1990 - 2007

Note: Mt CO2 = million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Source: Ministry for the Environment.

Road transportation, public electricity and heat production, enteric fermentation and agricultural soils were the four sources of emissions that contributed the most to New Zealand's increase in total emissions between 1990 and 2007. Enteric fermentation is part of food digestion in ruminant animals (eg, cows and sheep), which creates methane gas. The methane is released by the animal either through flatulence or belching.

Road transport emissions were 13.5 Mt CO2-e in 2007 – an increase of 76 per cent (5.8 Mt CO2-e) since the 1990 level of 7.6 Mt CO2-e.

Emissions from public electricity and heat production were 6.6 Mt CO2-e in 2007 - an increase of 91 per cent (3.2 Mt CO2-e) from the 1990 level of 3.5 Mt CO2-e.

Emissions from enteric fermentation were 23.3 Mt CO2-e in 2007 - an increase of 7 per cent (1.5 Mt CO2-e) since the 1990 level of 21.8 Mt CO2-e. Emissions from agricultural soils were 12.3 Mt CO2-e in 2007 - an increase of 22 per cent (2.3 Mt CO2-e) since the 1990 level of 10.0 Mt CO2-e.

Greenhouse gas emissions from four major sources in 1990 and 2007

Greenhouse gas emissions from four major sources in 1990 and 2007

Note: Mt CO2 = million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Source: Ministry for the Environment.

Emissions by gas

Between 1990 and 2007, carbon dioxide emissions increased by 39 per cent (9.9 Mt CO2-e), methane emissions by 4 per cent (1.1 Mt CO2-e) and nitrous oxide by 23 per cent (2.4 Mt CO2-e).

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions by gas: 1990–2007

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions by gas: 1990–2007

Note: Mt CO2 = million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Source: Ministry for the Environment.

International comparison

New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions represent around 0.2 per cent of total global emissions. While our total emissions are small in the global context, New Zealand had the 5th highest greenhouse gas emissions per person out of 27 OECD countries in 2005.

Total greenhouse gas emissions (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per person in 2005 for selected OECD countries

Total greenhouse gas emissions (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per person in 2005 for selected OECD countries

Notes:
(1) There is no data available for Turkey, Mexico and Korea.
(2) t CO2-e = tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
(3) Excludes land use change.
(4) Includes the six major greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs and SF6).
Source: Climate Analysis Indicators Tool produced by the World Resources Institute.

 

What can you do?

There are many day-to-day activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

You can reduce greenhouse gases by: reducing the amount of electricity you use at home, changing your transport habits and by reducing your waste.

For example:

  • When buying appliances, look for the energy rating label and the ENERGY STAR mark to help save you money and power – the more stars on the energy rating label, the better the energy efficiency.
  • Compost your kitchen or garden waste – composting serves as a kind of carbon sink, storing carbon in the soil instead of in the atmosphere.


This information has come from the latest national state of the environment report Environment New Zealand 2007 and New Zealand's Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990 - 2007.

 

Last updated: May 2009