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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; LULUCF (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 (NMVOCs) are also included in the inventory. Under the UNFCCC, only emissions and removals of the direct greenhouse gases (COs, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs and SF6) are reported in the national greenhouse gas total.

Only human-induced emissions and removals of greenhouse gases are included. A complete time-series of emissions and removals from 1990 through to 2005 (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. Over the previous 50 to 100 years however, 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 it 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 per cent 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 equal to 61,900.2 Gg CO2 equivalent (CO2-e). In 2005, total greenhouse gas emissions were 77,159.1 Gg CO2-e equating to a 15,258.9 Gg (24.7 per cent) rise since 1990 (Figure 1.1). Net removals of CO2 through forest sinks increased from 18,980.6 Gg CO2 in 1990 to 24,500.8 Gg CO2 in 2005.

There have been changes in the relative amounts of the different greenhouse gases emitted.

Figure 1.1 New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions 1990–2005

 

Year

Gg CO2 equivalent

1990

61,900.16

1991

62,297.64

1992

64,015.80

1993

63,569.81

1994

64,025.57

1995

64,456.09

1996

66,157.63

1997

68,365.54

1998

67,421.08

1999

69,098.95

2000

70,326.24

2001

73,086.12

2002

73,640.34

2003

75,727.75

2004

75,118.32

2005

77,159.08

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 2005

Greenhouse gas emissions

Gg CO2-equivalent

Change from 1990 (Gg CO2-equivalent)

Change from 1990 (%)

 

1990

2005

 

 

CO2 emissions (excluding LULUCF)

25,462.3

35,879.8

10,417.5

40.9

CH4 (excluding LULUCF)

25,492.7

27,175.3

1,682.6

6.6

N2O (excluding LULUCF)

10,417.2

13,259.9

2,842.7

27.3

HFCs

0.0

741.6

741.6

-

PFCs

515.6

80.7

–434.9

–84.3

SF6

12.3

21.8

9.5

77.2

Source and sink category emission estimates and trends

New Zealand is unusual amongst developed nations in that 48.5 per cent of total emissions in 2005 were produced by the agriculture sector (Figure 1.2). By comparison, emissions from agriculture typically make up 12 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions across Annex 1 Parties. New Zealand’s 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 4,948.2 Gg CO2-e (15.2 per cent) above the 1990 level (table 1.2).

The energy sector is the other large component of New Zealand’s emissions profile comprising 43.4 per cent of total emissions in 2005. Emissions from the energy sector are now 9,904.1 Gg CO2-e (42.0 per cent) above the 1990 level (table 1.2). The growth in energy emissions since 1990 is primarily from “road transport” (an increase of 4,961.9 Gg CO2-e or 64.7 per cent) and “electricity generation” (an increase of 4,697.2 Gg CO2-e or 134.5 per cent). 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 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2005. Emissions from the waste sector are now 25.9 per cent 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 small.

The land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector represents a major sink for New Zealand removing 31.8 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2005. Net removals in 2005 were 29.1 per cent 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 2005 (all figures Gg CO2-e)

Sector

Gg CO2 equivalent

Percent of total

Waste

1,847.1

2.4

Energy

33,481.7

43.4

Industrial Processes

4,336.7

5.6

Solvents & Other Product Use

48.4

0.1

Agriculture

37,445.3

48.5

Table 1.2 Sectoral emissions of greenhouse gases in 1990 and 2005

Sector

Gg CO2-equivalent

Change from 1990 (Gg CO2 -equivalent)

Change from 1990 (%)

1990

2005

 

 

Energy

23,577.5

33,481.7

9,904.1

42.0

Industrial processes

3,291.2

4,336.7

1,045.5

31.8

Solvent and other product

41.5

48.4

6.9

16.6

Agriculture

32,497.1

37,445.3

4,948.2

15.2

Land-use change and forestry

–18,980.6

–24,500.8

–5,520.2

29.1

Waste

2,492.8

1,847.1

–645.7

–25.9