Latest update on New Zealand's 2020 net position

The latest update on New Zealand’s 2020 net position and how it is calculated. We use the net position to track progress towards our emissions reduction target for the period 2013–2020.

Latest net position – April 2021 update

  • New Zealand is projected to meet its unconditional 2020 emissions reduction target by using 109.2 million units from forestry activities and 23.1 million units carried over from the first commitment period (CP1).
  • New Zealand is projected to have gross emissions for the 2013–20 period of 642 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e)This is 3.7 per cent higher than the carbon budget available after accounting for forestry activities. The remainder (23.1 million units) will be made up of units carried over from CP1.
  • Forestry activities are helping to reduce New Zealand’s emissions by 109.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e) over the 2013-20 period.

The latest 2021 net position update uses:

  • historic emission data from 2019 (published 15 April 2021)
  • emissions projection updates for the agriculture, energy, transport, industrial processes and products use (IPPU) and waste sectors, and emission projection updates for forestry activities.
  • projections prepared after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and do not capture associated socioeconomic disruptions and the impact this may have on emissions.

One unit represents one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e). Carbon dioxide equivalent is a measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential.

For information on how New Zealand’s 2020 net position is calculated and the carbon budget (also referred to as the emissions budget) see New Zealand’s initial report.

About the net position

To reach its unconditional 2020 emissions reduction target by the end of the 2013 to 2020 period, New Zealand will need to hold units at least equivalent to gross emissions during this period. See the graph below for information on the net position at 15 April 2021.

New Zealand’s projected gross emissions, and units held during the 2013 to 2020 period, as at 15 April 2021

Figure 10 Greenhouse Gas Snapshot v2
The left column of this graph shows projected gross emissions held during the 2013 to 2020 period were 642.0 Mt CO2-e equivalent. The right column of the graph shows the projected gross units held during the 2013 to 2020 period were: Forestry activities 109.2 Mt CO2-e equivalent; and the 2013 to 2020 carbon budget was 509.8 Mt CO2-e equivalent.

Note: All emissions units are in Mt CO2-e. Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding to one decimal place.

Sector breakdown of units and emissions for 2013 to 2020

Emissions and removals from forestry activities are represented by units based on the Kyoto Protocol accounting framework (refer to New Zealand’s Initial Report for further information on the accounting framework).

Sector breakdown of units and emissions for 2013 to 2020

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 Total
Historic Projected
Units      
2013 to 2020 carbon budget     509.8
Kyoto Protocol forestry activities 9.4 12.8 14.9 16.2 16.3 14.9 12.9 11.9 109.2
Surplus units from CP1     28.3
Total units     647.3
Emissions      
Stationary energy 17.9 17.8 17.7 16.1 16.7 16.3 18.1 17.6 138.2
Transport 14.41 14.4 14.9 15.0 15.9 16.2 16.2 14.6 121.2
Industrial processes and product use 4.8 5.0 5.2 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.1 5.8 40.3
Agriculture 39.4 40.0 39.5 39.1 39.1 39.5 39.6 38.6 314.8
Waste 3.6 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.3 27.6
Tokelau 0.004 0.003 0.003 0.003 0.004 0.004 0.004 0.004 0.03
Gross emissions 79.8 80.7 80.7 78.7 80.3 80.6 82.3 78.9 642.0
Net position   5.3

Note: All emissions units are in Mt CO2-e. Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding to one decimal place. 

Units

After accounting for forestry emissions and removals using the Kyoto Protocol framework of rules, New Zealand is projected to have gross emissions for the 2013–20 period 3.7 per cent higher than the carbon budget available. New Zealand is projected to use 23.1 million surplus units from the first commitment period (CP1) to meet its 2020 target.

In total, New Zealand is projected to hold 647.3 million units at the end of the 2013–2020 period.

This results from:

  • the carbon budget for 2013 to 2020 of 509.8 million units
  • net emissions and removals from forestry activities of 109.2 million units
  • In mid-2020, the Government cancelled 95.4 million carryover units that were of low or questionable quality
  • the carryover units from the first commitment period (CP1) of 28.3 million units.

Carbon budget for 2013 to 2020

For a 5 per cent reduction on 1990 emissions by 2020, New Zealand’s carbon budget for 2013 to 2020 is 509.8 Mt CO2-e representing 509.8 million units for accounting purposes.

This budget is based on 1990 emissions reported in New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990–2014 and calculated according to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) guidance (refer to New Zealand’s Initial Report for further information on the accounting framework). 

Net emissions and removals from forestry activities

In line with the Kyoto Protocol framework of rules, net emissions and removals from eligible forestry activities can offset gross emissions.

Net emissions and removals from eligible forestry activities are projected to remove 109.2 Mt CO2-e from the atmosphere from 2013 to 2020. Emissions and removals from forestry activities are strongly influenced by historic forest planting rates, harvesting and deforestation activities.

For more information, refer to chapter 11 of New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2019.

Gross emissions

Historic gross emissions are sourced from the inventory and future gross emissions from updated projections for each sector. These gross emissions are reported in the sector categories described below.

Sector category Projected gross emissions
Stationary energy Annual energy emissions (including fugitive emissions) without transport decrease over 2013 to 2020 and are expected to total around 138.2 Mt CO2-e during this period. 
Transport

Annual transport emissions increase over the 2013 to 2020 period and are expected to contribute a total of 121.2 Mt CO2-e.

This increase in emissions is driven by population growth with the demand for petrol and diesel for road transport increasing.

Industrial processes and product use 

Annual industrial processes and product use (IPPU) emissions increase slightly over 2013 to 2020 and are expected to total around 40.3 Mt CO2-e for the period.

Most of this projected growth is caused by increased consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Emissions of other greenhouse gases from the IPPU sector are projected to remain steady.

In October 2016, New Zealand adopted the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFC consumption and production along with nearly 200 other parties worldwide.  New Zealand ratified the amendment, in October 2019 with it entering into force on 1 January 2020.

Agriculture

Agriculture emissions decrease over 2013 to 2020 and are expected to total 314.8 Mt CO2-e over the period.

This decrease in emissions is in line with:

  1. A continued decline in the amount of land used for agriculture and continued reduction in land for sheep and beef.
  2. Changes in farm management practices due to the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.
  3. Continued reductions in emissions intensity (emissions per unit of product).
  4. These emissions are also influenced by other factors such as agricultural prices and adverse events (eg, droughts).
Waste

Waste emissions decline slightly over 2013 to 2018, and are expected to remain relatively steady over 2019 to 2020 to give a total of 27.6 Mt CO2-e.

Increasing solid waste disposal amounts are expected to continue at similar historical rates. It is anticipated the resulting increased emissions will be offset by methane capture.

Forecasted waste disposal amounts are based off projected trends. 

Changes since April 2020

Changes in sector projections since the previous net position update (in December 2019) are mostly from transport and agriculture activities and are summarised in the table below.

(MT CO2-E /MILLIONS OF UNITS)

APR-20

CHANGE 

APR-21

Stationary energy

133.4

+4.7

138.2

Transport

126.4

-5.2

121.2

Industrial processes and product use

40.6

-0.3

40.3

Agriculture

299.1

+15.8

314.8

Waste

32.8

-5.2

27.6

Other (Tokelau)

0.03

+0.00

0.03

Gross emissions

632.3

+9.7

642.0

Carbon budget

509.8

0.0

509.8

Forestry activities

108.0

+1.2

109.2

Surplus from CP1

123.7

-95.4

28.3

Units

741.5

-94.2

647.3

 

Net position

109.2

-103.9

5.3

Note: Numbers may not add to totals due to rounding to one decimal place.