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Latest annual inventory of greenhouse gases in New Zealand released 13 April 2021

New Zealand’s annual inventory of greenhouse gases shows gross emissions were 82.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e) in 2019.

The Ministry for the Environment has today released the 2021 Greenhouse Gas Inventory an annual report documenting all of New Zealand’s human-generated greenhouse gas emissions and removals since 1990.  The latest report covers the period from 1990 to 2019.

The inventory informs the Ministry for the Environment’s policy recommendations on climate change, and includes data that helps monitor New Zealand’s progress towards emissions reduction targets.

 Other key findings in the inventory

  • Gross emissions in 2019 comprised 46 per cent carbon dioxide, 42 per cent methane, 10 per cent nitrous oxide and 2 per cent fluorinated gases.
  • In 2019, agriculture and energy sectors were the two largest contributors to New Zealand's gross emissions in 2019, at 48 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively.
  • Between 1990 and 2019, gross emissions increased by 26 per cent (17.2 Mt CO2-e). This increase is mostly due to increases in methane from dairy cattle digestive systems and carbon dioxide from road transport.
  • New Zealand’s net emissions in 2019 were 54.9 Mt CO2-e. Between 1990 and 2019, net emissions increased by 34 per cent (13.8 Mt CO2-e), due to the underlying increase in gross emissions.
  • The Land-Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector offset 33 per cent
    (27.4 Mt CO2-e) of New Zealand's gross emissions in 2019.
  • Since 1990, net removals from the LULUCF sector have increased by 14 per cent (3.4 Mt CO2-e).
  • Trend between 2018 and 2019:
    • gross emissions increased by 2 per cent (1.7 Mt CO2-e)
    • net emissions also increased by 2 per cent (1.1 Mt CO2-e)
    • Both are mainly due to emission increases in manufacturing industries and construction, and public electricity and heat production.
  • Tokelau has been included in the Inventory since the 2017 Inventory. In 2019, Tokelau contributed 0.005 per cent to New Zealand’s gross emissions.

The Greenhouse Gas Inventory is one of New Zealand’s mandatory reporting obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. It takes about 15 months to collect and analyse the data for each year and prepare it for publication. Therefore, the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on emissions won’t be fully known until the inventory submission for 2022 is published.

The Ministry for the Environment is today also publishing the Net Position report, which uses the latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory data. The Net Position report shows New Zealand is on track to reach its 2020 international emissions reduction target of 5 per cent below 1990 gross greenhouse gas levels.