About measuring greenhouse gas emissions

This page outlines why New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are measured and the responsibilities of government agencies.

Why greenhouse gas emissions are measured

Greenhouse gases naturally trap heat in the atmosphere and are necessary to support life on earth. Over the past century or so, greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have been increasing. Human activities have largely been responsible for the increases. The increased levels of greenhouse gases change the climate by trapping energy in the atmosphere.

Human-induced greenhouse gases are measured in order to understand the scale of the problem and to work out how best to manage it. In 2014 globally, 73 per cent of these emissions were produced by the energy sector (Source: Climate Watch website).

Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Paris agreement, New Zealand and other signatory countries have agreed to reduce their human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

Each country commits to emissions reductions in relation to their selected base-year levels and must report annually on its emissions for the following economic sectors:

  • energy
  • industrial processes and other product use
  • agriculture
  • land use and forestry
  • waste.

The reporting shows how countries are tracking against agreed emissions reduction targets

Responsibilities for reporting emissions

New Zealand takes a ‘cross-government’ approach to reporting emissions. The government agencies responsible for reporting emissions by sector are listed in the table below.

Government agencies responsible by sector


Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Industrial processes and other product use

Ministry for the Environment


Ministry for Primary Industries


Ministry for the Environment

Land use and forestry

Ministry for the Environment

Find out more