Climate Change

Spike in household emissions stymies progress

New figures from Statistics New Zealand show household emissions have jumped 11.8 percent since 2007, even as the country's overall emissions declined slightly, Marc Daalder reports

A significant decline in industrial emissions over more than a decade in New Zealand has been countered by a stark jump in household emissions of greenhouse gases over the same period, figures from Statistics New Zealand show.

While industry-related emissions fell 2.6 percent - 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent - between 2007 and 2018, household emissions skyrocketed by 11.8 percent, or one million tonnes. This effectively halved the gain from industrial emissions reductions.

Almost all of the gain in household emissions came from transport, with the emitting growing faster than the growth in number of households.

"Household emissions grew slightly faster than the increase in the number of households, which was up 11 percent over the same period, suggesting that since 2007, households have become slightly less efficient at managing their emissions," Stats NZ environmental-economic accounts manager Stephen Oakley said.

Half of the 14 industrial categories Stats NZ uses saw an increase in emissions over the same period, while the other half saw reductions.

Since 2007, emissions from electricity, gas, water and waste services have fallen by almost a third, or 3.5 million tonnes. Emissions from mining fell by a quarter, or 500,000 tonnes. The remaining industrial reductions were far more minor.

Industrial increases were also significant. Agriculture, forestry and fishing emissions jumped by 650,000 tonnes. Construction emissions came close to doubling with a 550,000 tonne increase. Manufacturing and transport, postal and warehousing emissions also rose by 491,000 tonnes and 363,000 tonnes respectively.

Chart: Stats NZ.

Tourism emissions came in for particular focus in a Stats NZ media release. They rose by 845,000 tonnes or 16 percent between 2007 and 2018. The bulk of this increase came from air transport, which made up an increase of 565,000 tonnes of emissions.

"Tourism-related industries have become increasingly carbonised as emissions have increased while it's contribution to GDP and employment remained flat," the media release stated.

Stats NZ also found that service industries, which produce 65 percent of the country's GDP, have the lowest emissions profile, contributing just 11.2 percent to the country's gross emissions. Primary industries, meanwhile, made up 53 percent of New Zealand's emissions but just 6.8 percent of GDP.

Overall, emissions in relation to GDP fell by 2.4 percent a year between 2007 and 2018. The country's annual emissions fell 1.1 percent between those two years.

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