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Executive Summary

This annual inventory of emissions and removals of greenhouse gases forms part of New Zealand's obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. The inventory is also a key element of the Ministry for the Environment's state of the environment reporting.

The inventory reports the emissions and removals of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol. The gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) from six sectors: energy, industrial processes, solvents, agriculture, land use, land-use change and forestry and waste. The indirect greenhouse gases carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOX), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) are also included in the inventory. However, only emissions and removals of the direct greenhouse gases, CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs and SF6 are reported in New Zealand's total emissions under the UNFCCC and are accounted for under the Kyoto Protocol.

Only human-induced emissions and removals of greenhouse gases are included. A complete time-series of emissions and removals from 1990 through to 2004 (the current inventory year) are reported.

Climate change and the international response

Greenhouse gases trap the warmth from the sun and make life on Earth possible. However, over the previous 50 to 100 years, the concentration of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere have been increasing. The increased concentration produces an 'enhanced greenhouse effect' that causes the atmosphere to trap more heat and the climate to change. The climate changes ahead of us are expected to be much larger and happen more quickly than any recent natural changes.

The long-term objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is to "stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". All countries that ratify the UNFCCC are required to address climate change through national or regional programmes, preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change and monitoring emissions trends via greenhouse gas inventories. Developed countries agreed to non-binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.

Only a few countries made appreciable progress towards achieving their targets. The international community recognised that the UNFCCC alone was not enough to ensure greenhouse gas levels would be reduced to safe levels, and that more urgent action was needed. In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. The Kyoto Protocol commits Annex I Parties that ratify the Protocol to individual, legally-binding targets to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. New Zealand ratified the Kyoto Protocol on 19 December 2002 with a target of 100 percent of the level of emissions in 1990. The Protocol came into force on 16 February 2005.

National trends in New Zealand's emissions and removals

In 1990, New Zealand's total greenhouse gas emissions were equivalent to 61,510.70 Gg of CO2. In 2004, total greenhouse gas emissions were 74,605.22 Gg CO2 equivalent equating to a 13,094.52 Gg (21.3 percent) rise since 1990 (Figure 1.1). Net removals of CO2 through forest sinks increased from 18,977.92 Gg CO2 in 1990 to 24,482.63 Gg CO2 in 2004.

Figure 1.1 New Zealand's total greenhouse gas emissions 1990-2004

 

Year

Gg CO2 equivalent

1990

61.51

1991

62.03

1992

63.86

1993

63.77

1994

64.17

1995

64.47

1996

65.94

1997

68.22

1998

67.18

1999

68.86

2000

70.04

2001

73.01

2002

73.47

2003

75.50

2004

74.61

There have been changes in the relative amounts of the different greenhouse gases emitted. Whereas CH4 and CO2 contributed equally to New Zealand's emissions in 1990, CO2 is now the major greenhouse gas in New Zealand's emissions profile (Table 1.1). This is caused by increased growth in the energy sector compared to the agriculture sector.

Table 1.1 Emissions of greenhouse gases in 1990 and 2004

Greenhouse Gas Emissions  Gg CO2 equivalent Change from 1990 (Gg CO2 equivalent)  Change from 1990 (%) 
1990 2004

Net CO2 emissions / removals

6,292.44

9,473.50

3,181.06

50.5

CO2 emissions (without LULUCF)

25,373.39

34,038.90

8,665.51

34.1

CH4

25,405.48

27,064.03

1,658.55

6.5

N2O

10,306.92

12,878.75

2,571.83

25.0

HFCs

0.00

597.14

597.14

-

PFCs

515.60

87.70

-427.90

-83.0

SF6

12.33

21.49

9.16

74.3

Total emissions without the LULUCF sector

61,510.70

74,605.22

13,094.52

21.3

Source and sink category emission estimates and trends

New Zealand is unusual amongst developed nations in that 49.4 percent of total emissions in 2004 were produced by the agriculture sector (Figure 1.2). By comparison, emissions from agriculture typically make up 12 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions across Annex 1 Parties. The agricultural emissions are predominantly CH4 emissions from ruminant farm animals and N2O emissions from animal excreta and nitrogenous fertiliser use. The current level of emissions from the agriculture sector is 4,750.08 Gg (14.8 percent) above the 1990 level (Table 1.2).

The energy sector is the other large component of New Zealand's emissions profile comprising 42.4 percent of total emissions in 2004. Emissions from the energy sector are now 7,992.76 Gg (33.8 percent) above the 1990 level (Table 1.2). The growth in energy emissions since 1990 is primarily from road transport (an increase of 4,855.03 Gg or 62.7 percent) and electricity generation (an increase of 2,572.46 Gg or 73.6 percent). Emissions from thermal electricity generation vary from year to year depending on the water resources available for hydro generation. In 'dry' years there is a greater reliance on thermal electricity generation.

Emissions from the industrial processes and waste sectors are a much smaller component of New Zealand's emissions profile, comprising 5.6 percent and 2.5 percent respectively of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2004. Emissions from the waste sector are now 25.9 percent below the 1990 baseline with the majority of the reduction occurring from improvements in solid waste disposal. New Zealand's relatively small manufacturing base means that solvent use is lower than in many other countries.

The land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector represents a major sink for New Zealand removing 32.8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2004. Net removals in 2004 were 29.0 percent above net removals in 1990. Variations in planting rates and the impact of harvest regimes affect the size of this sink from year to year.

Figure 1.2 New Zealand's sectoral emissions in 2004 (all figures Gg CO2 equivalent)

Sector

Gg CO2 equivalent

Percent of total

Waste

1,839.98

2.5

Energy

31,647.91

42.4

Industrial Processes

4,202.53

5.6

Solvents & Other Product Use

48.36

0.1

Agriculture

36,866.67

49.4

Table 1.2 Sectoral emissions of greenhouse gases in 1990 and 2004

Sector Gg CO2 equivalent Change from 1990 (Gg CO2 equivalent) 

Change from 1990 (%)

1990 2004

Energy

23,655.15

31,647.91

7,992.76

33.8

Industrial processes

3,214.61

4,202.53

987.92

30.7

Solvent and other product

41.54

48.36

6.82

16.4

Agriculture

32,116.58

36,866.67

4,750.09

14.8

Land-use change and forestry

-18,977.92

-24,482.63

-5504.71

29.0

Waste

2,482.81

1,839.98

-642.83

-25.9