Report positive about drop in emissions, highlights key sectors for continued action

  • Published Date 27 Jun 2023
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Greenhouse gas emissions in the Wellington region fell by 9% since 2019, a newly released report commissioned by eight of the regions’ councils including Greater Wellington shows. 

Between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2022, the regions’ gross emissions totalled 3,852,625 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent), a 381,356 tCO2e reduction on gross emissions produced in the same period in 2018-19. 

Greater Wellington Climate Chair Penny Gaylor hailed the progress made to achieve the positive results. "We are delighted to see a decrease in total gross emissions, indicating that our regions’ efforts towards sustainability are gaining traction. This is a testament to the commitment of our community and councils to combat climate change and build a resilient future”, she said. 

The report highlights the impressive 18% reduction in transport emissions (290,358 tCO2e) over the same period, driven by a reduction in air travel emissions and on-road petrol and diesel consumption. 

A reduction in the everyday emissions can be attributed to the restriction of domestic and international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic and significantly reduced road and air transport fuel use.  

Cr Gaylor concurred the restrictions had an impact, saying “we know that it made a significant dent in these emissions, and a rebound towards pre-COVID levels is expected. However, this period has shown the significant impact that behaviour change can have on our emissions, demonstrating the importance of investing in and encouraging the use of sustainable and active modes of transport.” 

Of note was that net forestry emissions totalled -2,281,047 tCO2e in 2021/22, indicating carbon sequestration in forests surpassed emissions from forest harvesting. These emissions are not included in total gross emissions but are accounted for in total net emissions. 

The report also sheds light on waste and industrial processes and product use (IPPU), which represent 5% and 4% of the Wellington region’s total gross emissions, respectively. A 15% reduction in waste emissions (34,287 tCO2e) can be attributed to the increased efficiency in landfill gas capture. 

Considering the changes in annual emissions between 2018/19 and 2021/22, the report notes that emissions decreased in all territorial authority areas, with Porirua exhibiting the largest percentage change (-12%) and Wellington city experiencing the most significant emissions reduction (-203,280 tCO2e). 

Despite a 2.7% increase in the region's population, Wellington region has managed to achieve a 12% decrease in per capita gross emissions, reducing from 8.0 to 7.0 tCO2e per person per year. 

Cr Gaylor expressed her gratitude to the community, saying, "These results reflect the collaborative efforts of our residents, businesses, and local authorities in adopting sustainable practices and embracing innovative solutions. However, there is still work to be done to ensure a cleaner, greener future for Greater Wellington." 

Due to the COVID-enforced drop in transport emissions, the agriculture sector became the regions’ largest source of emissions, accounting for 39% of total gross emissions. Within agriculture, animal gases from livestock constitute a significant portion, contributing 76% of the emissions. Notably, 94% of Greater Wellington's agriculture emissions originate from the Wairarapa. 

Addressing the challenges posed by the transportation sector, the report reveals that it represents 34% of Greater Wellington's total gross emissions. Petrol and diesel consumption account for 28% of these emissions. The report recognises the need for continued efforts to reduce emissions from road and air travel. 

Stationary energy, which groups emissions related to electricity and natural gas consumption, was the third highest emissions contributor in the region, adding 17% to total gross emissions. Greater Wellington acknowledges the importance of transitioning to cleaner energy sources to further mitigate environmental impact, and recently greenlit two climate friendly projects including powering over 6,000 energy efficient lights for Sky Stadium. 

“As councils we are at the forefront of climate action, and we remain committed to combating climate change. We will continue working closely with stakeholders to identify opportunities for further emission reductions, and to prioritise initiatives that support the region's transition to a low-carbon economy and future.”, said Cr Gaylor. 

For more information and to view the report, please visit the Greater Wellington website. 

Updated June 27, 2023 at 4:15 PM

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