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Greenhouse gas emissions report card, Auckland reporting area 2016

Why must we reduce carbon emissions?

Our climate is changing with rising temperature mainly due to increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere by human activities. We must reduce the emissions in order to limit temperature rise and harmful impacts of associated risks such as accelerated sea level rise and more frequent extreme weather events.

Reducing our carbon emissions is a critical element for Auckland to become the world’s most liveable city. The Auckland Plan lays out an aspirational target to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in GHG emissions by 2040 (based on 1990 baseline emissions). The Auckland Low Carbon Action Plan sets out the pathways and actions to achieve the target. An inventory that identifies and quantifies the sources and sinks of GHGs in Auckland is essential to inform and evaluate our progress.

How do we measure carbon emissions?

Data on a range of activities which are responsible for producing emissions, such as the volume of fuel used by cars and electricity consumption, is collected to quantify their associated carbon emissions.

Quick facts

  • In 2013, Auckland’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 10,955ktCO2e (kilo-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, net emissions including CO2 removed BY forests OR 7.3 tCO2e per person)
  • From 2009 to 2013, the emissions have remained stable Even though population and GDP have increased by 5.0 per cent and  8.4 per cent, respectively
  • The transport and non-transport energy sectors dominated the emissions, accounting for  69.0% of gross emissions (excluding CO2 removed BY forests)
  • With a projection of increasing emissions Auckland must transform from a fossil fuel-dependent, high energy-using, high-waste society to  a mobile, quality, compact city.

Carbon emissions are calculated by multiplying activity data by an emission factor (the amount of carbon emissions relative to a unit of activity), for example, the number of litres of petrol used by our cars in a calendar year multiplied by CO2 emissions in g from the use of petrol in litre, gCO2/litre.

The 2009 and 2013 Auckland greenhouse gas inventory was prepared in accordance with the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) – this is international best practice. 2009 is the base year for carbon emissions in the Auckland Low Carbon Action Plan and 2013 is the most recent year that emission data is available for the New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The study covers three GHGs: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Emissions are reported as metric tonnes of each GHG as well as CO2 equivalents (CO2e). CO2e is a term for describing different GHGs in a common unit. For any quantity and type of GHG, CO2e signifies the amount of CO2 which would have the equivalent global warming potential. GHG emissions are also termed as carbon emissions.

How is Auckland doing?

In 2013, Auckland’s GHG emissions were 10,955 ktCO2e (kilo-tonnes of CO2e, net emissions accounting for CO2 removed by forests) or 11,997 ktCO2e (gross emissions excluding CO2 removed by forests). Of the three GHGs estimated, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide contributed 81.3 per cent, 16.5 per cent and 2.1 per cent of the gross emissions. The transport and non-transport energy sectors dominated the emissions, accounting for 69.0 per cent of total gross emissions. The 1990 baseline emissions are calculated as gross emissions. This means we report both net emissions and gross emissions.

Between 2009 and 2013, the emissions have remained stable. Over this timeframe, the population increased by 5.0 per cent, and GDP increased by 8.4 per cent. Subsequently, the emission intensity by population decreased from 7.6 to 7.3 tCO2e per capita. Similarly, emission intensity by GDP decreased from 160 to 149 tCO2e per million $NZ (2009/2010 price). In other words, the emissions didn’t increase at the rate of population and economic growth.

Without intervention, our GHG emissions are projected to increase. To reduce the emissions and achieve the reduction target, Auckland must transform from a fossil fuel-dependent, high energy-using, high-waste society to a mobile, quality, compact city. The successful implementation of the Low Carbon Action Plan is critical for the transformation.