Our sustainability

Find out about the Ministry’s 2022-2025 sustainability strategy, performance against our emissions reduction targets, and climate-related disclosure.

2022-2025 sustainability strategy

Read our 2022-2025 sustainability strategy [PDF, 233 KB]

Our 2022-2025 sustainability strategy contains the Ministry’s shorter-term targets and longer-term goals which are focused on all aspects of our organisational sustainability.

About out sustainability strategy

We aspire to lead the public service in operating sustainability and reducing emissions. Our sustainability strategy is a core strategic document which holds us to account and ensures we lead by example.

For us, sustainability as an organisation means:

  • operating within our baseline
  • minimising our environmental impact
  • giving our people what they need to flourish.

We have a holistic view of sustainability, which is why our strategy includes three pillars:

  • tangata – our people
  • taiao – our environment
  • pūtea – our finances.

We have had a sustainability strategy since 2018/19. Our emissions reduction targets are embedded within our strategy.

An internal work programme ensures we are meeting our targets.

In December 2020, the Government announced a climate emergency and launched the Carbon Neutral Government Programme (CNGP). Our successive sustainability strategies ensure we are meeting all commitments as outlined by the CNGP.

Sustainability highlights of 2021/22

We achieved many successes over the 2021/22 financial year.

Highlights include:

  • measuring, externally verifying and certifying our organisational carbon emissions for the fifth consecutive year
  • reducing our operational emissions by 66.55 per cent from our 2017/18 base year
  • implementing internal emissions budgets and integrating these into our financial business planning systems
  • releasing our first climate-related financial disclosure
  • recertifying the Rainbow Tick for the second consecutive year
  • developing a broader outcomes procurement strategy and supporting guidance to ensure sustainability measures are routinely considered as part of our procurement practices.

Emissions reduction targets

We have set two emissions reduction targets that align with expectations set out by the CNGP. These are in line with a pathway of warming of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

  • 2025 target: Reduce operational emissions by 35 per cent from our 2017/18 base year
  • 2030 target: Reduce operational emissions by 50 per cent from our 2017/18 base year in line with reducing warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Tracking our performance against our targets

tracking our performance against our targets

Bar graph showing the trajectory of the Ministry’s emissions. The X-axis shows the years 2018 to 2030. The Y-axis shows the levels of total gross emissions data in tonnes of carbon equivalent from 0 to 1,400 tCO2e. 

There are data bars from 2018 to 2022 showing actuals emission data. The highest emissions are in 2018 with 1,324 tCO2e. Emissions in 2019 were 1287 tCO2e, and in 2020 were 660 tCO2e. The lowest emissions were in 2021 with 367 tCO2e, and the latest 2022 emissions are 443 tCO2e.

There are two trajectory lines showing both the reduction target and projected emissions for the entire time-period. The trajectory lines both slope downward with the highest point for both at 2018 levels and the lowest point at 662 tCO2e. The projected emissions graph takes a drastic drop in between 2018 and 2020, then continuing in an almost straight line to the end, while the reduction target gently slopes all the way.

There are three separate text boxes pointing out particular reduction targets of 26% for 2022, 35% for 2025 and 50% for 2030. These coincide with the dotted indicators showing the CNGP target years for reporting in 2025 and 2030.

tracking our performance against our targets

Bar graph showing the trajectory of the Ministry’s emissions. The X-axis shows the years 2018 to 2030. The Y-axis shows the levels of total gross emissions data in tonnes of carbon equivalent from 0 to 1,400 tCO2e. 

There are data bars from 2018 to 2022 showing actuals emission data. The highest emissions are in 2018 with 1,324 tCO2e. Emissions in 2019 were 1287 tCO2e, and in 2020 were 660 tCO2e. The lowest emissions were in 2021 with 367 tCO2e, and the latest 2022 emissions are 443 tCO2e.

There are two trajectory lines showing both the reduction target and projected emissions for the entire time-period. The trajectory lines both slope downward with the highest point for both at 2018 levels and the lowest point at 662 tCO2e. The projected emissions graph takes a drastic drop in between 2018 and 2020, then continuing in an almost straight line to the end, while the reduction target gently slopes all the way.

There are three separate text boxes pointing out particular reduction targets of 26% for 2022, 35% for 2025 and 50% for 2030. These coincide with the dotted indicators showing the CNGP target years for reporting in 2025 and 2030.

We have made significant progress towards our 2025 and 2030 emissions reduction targets, as shown in the graph above.

Travel emissions are our biggest source of organisational emissions. We have achieved travel emission reductions due to our internal travel policy, internal emissions budgets, and the travel restrictions caused by COVID-19. Our challenge will be maintaining this level of success as travel restrictions ease, particularly internationally.

In 2021/22, we emitted 442.97 tCO2e, a 20.55 per cent increase on the previous year (367.46 tCO2e), and 66.55 per cent lower than our 2017/18 base year (1324.12 tCO2e). The bulk of our emissions come from air travel, electricity for our offices, and electricity and waste associated with working from home.

Emissions by activity

emissions by activity

Graph description: Bar graph showing the Ministry’s total emissions divided into activity during a five-year period. The X-axis shows the financial years 2017/18 to 2021/22. The Y-axis shows the levels of total gross emissions data in tonnes of carbon equivalent from 0 to 1,400 tCO2e. The highest emissions are in 2017/18 with 1,324 tCO2e. Emissions in 2018/19 were 1287 tCO2e, and in 2019/20 were 660 tCO2e. The lowest emissions were in 2020/21 with 367 tCO2e, and the latest 2021/22 emissions are 443 tCO2e.

The emissions activities are divided into six groups: air travel international business class, air travel international premium economy class, air travel international economy class, air travel domestic, other travel, electricity (includes transmission and distribution losses), working from home, waste, other office (paper, water, freight). All categories have decreased steadily through the years, with the exception of electricity, which has stayed close to the same each year, working from home emissions, which have increased noticeably in the last bar, and other office emissions, which have increased slightly in the last bar.

emissions by activity

Graph description: Bar graph showing the Ministry’s total emissions divided into activity during a five-year period. The X-axis shows the financial years 2017/18 to 2021/22. The Y-axis shows the levels of total gross emissions data in tonnes of carbon equivalent from 0 to 1,400 tCO2e. The highest emissions are in 2017/18 with 1,324 tCO2e. Emissions in 2018/19 were 1287 tCO2e, and in 2019/20 were 660 tCO2e. The lowest emissions were in 2020/21 with 367 tCO2e, and the latest 2021/22 emissions are 443 tCO2e.

The emissions activities are divided into six groups: air travel international business class, air travel international premium economy class, air travel international economy class, air travel domestic, other travel, electricity (includes transmission and distribution losses), working from home, waste, other office (paper, water, freight). All categories have decreased steadily through the years, with the exception of electricity, which has stayed close to the same each year, working from home emissions, which have increased noticeably in the last bar, and other office emissions, which have increased slightly in the last bar.

Breaking down our emissions profile by activity clearly shows our biggest emissions sources. Air travel is consistently our largest source of emissions.

In 2021/22, our working from home (WFH) emissions increased.

WFH emissions sources that we measure and report on are:

  • waste to landfill
  • electricity consumption.

We are continuing to refine our methodology for calculating WFH emissions by gathering accurate IT user-connection data and calculating emissions specific to the monitors and laptops staff use. This will inform how we can engage and support staff to reduce their WFH emissions.

Transport emissions

transport emissions

Graph description: Bar graph showing the Ministry’s total transport emissions divided into international air travel, domestic air travel and ground transport.

The X-axis shows the financial years 2017/18 to 2021/22.

The Y-axis shows the levels of total gross emissions data in tonnes of carbon equivalent from 0 to 900 tCO2e. International air travel has highs of 733 and 785 tCO2e in 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively, with a sharp decline to 273 tCO2e in 2019/20. Then an anomaly year of 0 tCO2e in 2020/21, with latest emissions jumping slightly to 159 tCO2e.

Domestic air travel has decreased steadily through the years with emissions in 2017/18 at 486 tCO2e and in 2021/22 at 113 tCO2e.

Ground transport has decreased steadily through the years with emissions in 2017/18 at 27 tCO2e and in 2021/22 at 11 tCO2e. 

transport emissions

Graph description: Bar graph showing the Ministry’s total transport emissions divided into international air travel, domestic air travel and ground transport.

The X-axis shows the financial years 2017/18 to 2021/22.

The Y-axis shows the levels of total gross emissions data in tonnes of carbon equivalent from 0 to 900 tCO2e. International air travel has highs of 733 and 785 tCO2e in 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively, with a sharp decline to 273 tCO2e in 2019/20. Then an anomaly year of 0 tCO2e in 2020/21, with latest emissions jumping slightly to 159 tCO2e.

Domestic air travel has decreased steadily through the years with emissions in 2017/18 at 486 tCO2e and in 2021/22 at 113 tCO2e.

Ground transport has decreased steadily through the years with emissions in 2017/18 at 27 tCO2e and in 2021/22 at 11 tCO2e. 

Our largest source of emissions is air travel. We have prioritised this as a focus area for organisational emissions reductions.

No international flights were taken in 2020/21 as we suspended all international travel due to the impacts of COVID-19. Instead, we met our international obligations by using technology to participate in meetings online.

In 2021/22, some international travel resumed as travel restrictions eased. The focus now is to ensure we embed the same considered approach to our international travel as we have with our domestic travel.

Reducing our transport emissions 

We have made a conscious effort to cut our travel emissions by implementing measures designed to support reductions including:

  • guiding staff on sustainable travel options and behaviours
  • ensuring staff consider why and how they travel internationally (by weighing emissions impact, finances and staff wellbeing)
  • setting internal emissions budgets that sit alongside financial budgets for our business groups
  • rolling out improved video-conference technology in our offices to support remote working more effectively, and for meeting with stakeholders around the country
  • providing a low-emissions fleet of bikes, scooters and an e-bike for Wellington staff to attend meetings around the city
  • choosing a hybrid or electric rental vehicle whenever appropriate and available.

Reporting and certifications

Sustainability reporting in annual reports

For more information on our sustainability performance read the sustainability sections of our annual reports:  

Emissions certifications

As part of our sustainability strategy and to meet the requirements of the Carbon Neutral Government Programme, we have committed to measuring, reducing and reporting on our
organisational emissions profile and having them externally verified. We have been measuring and reporting our emissions since 2018. We are proud to have achieved the Toitū carbonreduce certification for the fifth consecutive year.

View our emissions certification summaries on the Toitū website: