New Zealand’s latest greenhouse gas inventory
New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity declined by 0.1 per cent in 2008 compared to the
previous year, according to the latest annual inventory report published by the Ministry for the Environment.
The inventory is required under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. The
inventory shows total greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 caused by humans were 74.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide
equivalent (Mt CO2-e).
The decline was largely due to a 0.7 Mt CO2-e decrease in agricultural emissions caused by a drought, which forced
farmers to reduce stock numbers of sheep, cattle and deer, and a 0.6 Mt CO2-e decrease in road transport emissions due
to high fuel prices and the onset of the global recession.
However, these reductions were balanced by an increase in non-transport energy emissions, particularly from electricity
generation. Between 2007 and 2008, electricity generation emissions increased by 1.0 Mt CO2-e (14.8 per cent). This
increase was due to low hydro inflows and a resulting increase in electricity generation from coal.
Despite the recent decrease, total emissions since 1990 have increased by 13.9 Mt CO2-e (22.8 per cent) from the level
of 60.8 Mt CO2-e in 1990 to 74.7 Mt CO2-e in 2008.
This increase was largely caused by the growth in emissions from road transport and from electricity generation.
Emissions also rose due to increases in agricultural intensity and productivity. Emissions from dairy cattle have grown
more rapidly than those from other livestock with pastoral land increasingly being converted to dairy farms.
Agriculture was the largest source of total emissions, contributing 46.6 per cent (34.8 Mt CO2-e) to total emissions,
followed by energy, which contributed 45.3 per cent (33.8 Mt CO2-e).
The latest inventory also reports the information for the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Net removals
from afforestation, reforestation and deforestation were -14.4 Mt CO2-e in 2008. These net removals include
deforestation emissions of 2.9 Mt CO2-e which is based on a deforested area of 4,818 hectares.
A summary of the inventory information is available on the Ministry for the Environment’s website http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/climate/greenhouse-gas-inventory-2010/index.html