NZ's emissions increased by 2% in latest greenhouse gases report — 'We clearly have a lot to do'

New Zealand's emissions increased by two per cent in the latest annual reporting of greenhouse gases, with the agriculture (contributing 48 per cent) and energy (42 per cent) sectors the biggest contributers. 

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The increase between 2018 and 2019 was said to be due mainly to the increase in manufacturing and construction industries, as well as public electricity and heat production. 

The figure has spurred Climate Change Minister James Shaw to acknowledge "we clearly have a lot to do".

More than 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent was emitted in New Zealand in 2019, with the reporting period from 1990 to 2019. 

Both New Zealand's gross emissions (total emissions) and net emissions (minus emission removals from land use, land use change, and forestry) increased two per cent in 2019. 

Of the gross emissions in 2019, 46 per cent was carbon dioxide, 42 per cent was methane and 10 per cent was nitrous oxide and 2 per cent fluorinated gases.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

It takes about 15 months to collect the yearly data for the  Greenhouse Gas Inventory , which means the impact Covid-19 had on emissions will not be released until the release of the 2022 report.  

Shaw said the most recent report did not show the impact some of the Government's recent changes have had on emissions, such as the ban to new coal boilers and the cap on the Emissions Trading Scheme.  

"Last week thousands of young people joined the latest School Strike 4 Climate to remind us of this – and to call for urgent action to address the climate emergency we declared last year. Today we can see that they are right to be concerned," Shaw said.

“Whereas the period from 2018 to 2019 has taken us further away from meeting the targets we committed to in law, on average New Zealand’s emissions have remained flat for the last 15 years.

“What this makes absolutely clear is that every part of Government must now come together and help to deliver an emissions reduction plan in line with what the Climate Change Commission recommends. If we can do that, then we can reverse the current trend and finally bring emissions down in line with what the science requires. That plan will need to cover every part of the economy – including, but not limited to, finance, energy, transport and agriculture.