National emissions picture unchanged by regions

Image: Stats NZ

Approximately two-thirds of New Zealand’s regions recorded decreases in their total greenhouse gas emissions, while one-third of regions saw increases between 2007 and 2018, says Stats NZ.

“While some regions reduced their emissions, this was largely offset by increased emissions in other regions. Overall, this resulted in a reduction of just over one percent in New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions between 2007 and 2018,” says Environmental-Economic Accounts Manager Stephen Oakley.

Changes to a region’s total emissions occur as a result of increases or decreases in emissions from industry and households.

“Industrial emissions, from either primary industries, goods-producing industries, or service industries, can be affected by a number of factors, such as structural changes to the local economy, changes in technology, or efficiency gains,” says Stephen.

Between 2007 and 2018, the largest falls in emissions were in Auckland, down 955 kilotonnes or 7.8 per cent, Taranaki, down 707 kilotonnes or 11.3 per cent, Northland, down 545 kilotonnes or 10.8 per cent), and Waikato, down 272 kilotonnes or 2.0 per cent.

Over the same period, emissions increased in Canterbury, up 1,175 kilotonnes or 11.0 per cent, Bay of Plenty, up 356 kilotonnes or 11.9 per cent, Southland, up 335 kilotonnes or 6.2 per cent, and Otago, up 333 kilotonnes or 7.0 per cent.

“This is the first comprehensive picture we have been able to develop to show where emissions are being produced in New Zealand and which regions are driving the changes in emissions,” says Stephen.

The decrease in Auckland’s emissions came from the goods-producing industries, where emissions fell by 1,675 kilotonnes or 25 per cent. This was mainly due to decreases in emissions from the electricity, gas, water, and waste services industry. However, the rise in emissions from the services industries - up 15 per cent,  and household emission - up 18 per cent resulted in an overall reduction of Auckland’s emissions of only 955 kilotonnes or 7.8 per cent.

“The rise in Auckland’s household emissions is largely due to its growing population, leading to increased car emissions, and increased fuel use,” says Stephen.

In Canterbury and Otago, increases in overall emissions were driven largely by the primary industries, specifically by increases in emissions from these regions’ expanding dairy cattle numbers.

In Bay of Plenty, the increase was due to a combination of increasing household emissions and increasing emissions from goods-producing industries, particularly the electricity, gas, water, and waste services industry.

Southland’s increase in greenhouse gas emissions was also largely driven by goods-producing industries, particularly manufacturing, and primary industries, which was mainly due to dairy.


Three regions accounted for just under half of total emissions in 2018

In 2018, Auckland, Waikato, and Canterbury combined accounted for 47 per cent of total regional emissions. The regions with the least emissions were Marlborough, Tasman/Nelson, West Coast, and Gisborne. These four regions accounted for 5.8 per cent of emissions in 2018. Both these proportions were constant across the 2007–18 period.

In 2018, the top three emitting regions accounted for 54 per cent of both carbon dioxide and fluorinated gases but only 40 per cent of methane and 45 per cent of nitrous oxide emissions.

Auckland generated the most carbon dioxide, Canterbury the most methane

While Waikato had the highest greenhouse gas emissions of any region in 2018, Auckland recorded the highest emissions of carbon dioxide, which were driven by households and manufacturing. Auckland also had the highest levels of fluorinated gases, largely produced by the service industries, excluding transport, postal, and warehousing. Canterbury recorded the highest methane and nitrous oxide emissions in 2018, largely due to emissions from agriculture.

Further detail about the distribution of greenhouse gas emissions by region is available under key facts on the release page - Greenhouse gas emissions by region (industry and household): Year ended 2018

The release Greenhouse gas emissions by region (industry and household): Year ended 2018

includes estimates for 15 regions by main industries and households. The estimates are compiled on the same basis as that used to measure GDP and other economic statistics.

This first release of greenhouse gas emissions by region is provisional. Revisions to the time series are expected as the methodologies are improved over time.

The estimates complement Greenhouse gas emissions (industry and household): Year ended 2018, released in June 2020. Data is available to the year ended 2018 due to the availability of input data from New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory

For more information on how the estimates were compiled, see the ‘air emissions’ section in Environmental-economic accounts: Sources and methods (third edition)

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