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Decrease in Wellington region greenhouse gas emissions

NEWS RELEASE

9 April 2014

New report shows decrease in Wellington region greenhouse gas emissions

The Wellington region has reduced its level of greenhouse gas emissions by about 3 percent since 2000/01, despite population and economic growth, a new report has found.

The report, which provides an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for the region, was commissioned by a consortium of councils – Wellington City Council, Porirua City Council, Hutt City Council, Upper Hutt City Council, Kāpiti Coast District Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council – and prepared by consultants URS New Zealand Limited.

Increases in emissions are usually closely linked to growth in population and GDP so this reduction is seen by the councils as an important step in the right direction. In the Wellington region, the population has increased by 12 percent and regional GDP by 26 percent since 2000/01.

The 3 percent decline does not include emissions from the forestry sector; when forestry is included, emissions are very similar, decreasing by one percent over the 12-year period (2000/01–2012/13).

The relatively stable regional trend contrasts with rising national emissions although differences in methodology prevent a direct comparison. Nationally, gross emissions (excluding forestry) increased by 5 percent and net emissions (including forestry) increased by 30 percent from 2000 to 2011.

The Wellington region councils want to improve their understanding of the sources of greenhouse gas emissions and trends in their region, including urban areas, and identify actions they can take to mitigate this. More broadly, the study will inform strategic decision-making by the councils and provide useful information to researchers, the business community, central government and Wellington residents.

The inventory sets out annual rates of greenhouse gas emissions for the Wellington region as a whole with a breakdown by district. It measures greenhouse gas emissions from the following sectors: stationary energy (such as electricity and gas), transport (including domestic aviation), industrial processes (such as gases used in refrigerators and air conditioning systems), agriculture and waste. It also measures changes in the forestry sector.

In 2012/13, regional gross emissions (excluding forestry) were about 3.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide equivalent). Net emissions for the region (including forestry) were 1.7 million tonnes – around 3.5 tonnes per person. Over the 12-year period, gross emissions per person decreased from 9 tonnes to about 8 tonnes.

In Wellington City, Porirua City, Hutt City, Upper Hutt City and the Kāpiti Coast district, most emissions come from stationary energy and transport, compared to the Wairarapa where most come from agriculture. The main factors in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Wellington region are:

• more electricity being generated from renewable sources (wind and geothermal), with some of this coming from new renewable developments such as Project West Wind

• a decline in electricity consumption

• relatively stable overall consumption of road transport fuels (petrol use has declined while diesel has gone up)

• landfill gas recovery systems being installed

• more waste being diverted from landfills

• waste water treatment changing from oxidation ponds and septic tanks to sludge treatment processes in Kāpiti Coast district

• a decline in animal stock rates in Wairarapa.

Notable emission increases were seen in domestic aviation (based on regional activity) and industry (based on national trends).

The Wellington region councils took part in an international pilot project to test the methodology used by URS New Zealand, called the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions. This method is emerging as international best practice in developing community-scale greenhouse gas inventories.

The study also identifies areas for further work by the councils to improve data quality for emissions monitoring. Due to data limitations the inventory excludes emissions from international aviation and shipping, estimates regional industrial process emissions based on national trends, and does not account for forest carbon storage in harvested wood products.

More analysis will be required to properly assess what factors are driving regional emissions and opportunities for mitigation. The next stage of the project will focus on developing projected scenarios for regional emissions to 2020.

The table below provides the gross emission results for each city/district and the Wellington region as a whole. The three Wairarapa district authorities were grouped into one Wairarapa area for the purpose of the inventory.

Area/Unit2000/012012/13% change
Gross emissions tCO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent)1
Wellington City1,310,7051,301,739-0.70
Porirua City198,077208,8275.40
Kāpiti Coast district240,631245,9862.20
Hutt City460,854459,629-0.30
Upper Hutt City184,159186,4281.20
Wairarapa district1,511,8931,390,504-8.00
Wellington region3,906,3243,793,147-2.90

1 Excludes the forestry sector

Link to the full report:
www.Wellington.govt.nz/greenhousegas


--

Questions and answers: Wellington region greenhouse gas inventory

1. What is the Wellington region greenhouse gas inventory?

2. Why was the inventory commissioned and who prepared it?

3. What methodology was used, and what are the limitations of the study?

4. What were the regional greenhouse gas emissions by source category in 2012/13?

5. What were the total regional emissions per person in 2012/13?

6. How have emissions varied by district and by source category over time?

7. How have emissions varied by unit of regional GDP over the study period?

8. What are some of the causes of these trends?

9. Why are two sets of regional data reported for electricity emissions?

10. How do the results from the Wellington region compare to those in the national greenhouse gas inventory?

11. What happens next with the inventory results?

12. How has Wellington City performed against its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets so far?


1. What is the Wellington region greenhouse gas inventory?

The Wellington region greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory presents an annual accounting of GHG emissions for the Wellington region as a whole with a breakdown by district for the financial years 2000/01– 2012/13. The districts include Wellington City, Porirua City, Kāpiti Coast, Hutt City and Upper Hutt City as well as South Wairarapa, Carterton and Masterton (note that emissions from the latter three districts are reported in aggregate).

The inventory includes emissions and removals from the following sectors: stationary energy, transport, industrial processes, forestry, agriculture and waste. It covers the following six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N¬2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

2. Why was the inventory commissioned and who prepared it?

This inventory was commissioned to improve understanding of regional emission sources and trends and inform policy making and action to reduce emissions by government, businesses and households. The consultancy URS New Zealand Limited was commissioned to prepare the study by a consortium of six councils: Wellington City Council, Porirua City Council, Kāpiti Coast District Council, Hutt City Council, Upper Hutt Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council. South Wairarapa District Council, Carterton District Council and Masterton District Council assisted with data collection and review.

3. What methodology was used, and what are the limitations of the study?

The inventory was prepared using a methodology called the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GPC), which is being developed as international best practice (seehttp://www.ghgprotocol.org/city-accounting). The Wellington region has participated in an international pilot project on the use of the GPC methodology.

While derived from the national inventory methodology from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the GPC methodology has been designed for community use and diverges in some ways from the methodology used in New Zealand’s national greenhouse gas inventory and in accounting for liabilities under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. Therefore, the regional inventory results cannot be compared directly with those of the national inventory. However, relative emission profiles and trends can be observed and evaluated. The last time this work was done for the region was in 2008, covering the 2006/07 financial year, and a different methodology was used.

This Wellington region inventory accounts for direct (production) emissions within the geographic area, and indirect (consumption) emissions from imported electricity, imported waste, and transport into the area that originates from outside the area. Emissions are expressed on a carbon dioxide-equivalent basis using the 100-year global warming potentials from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007. Emissions and removals from the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector are evaluated across all land uses (e.g. afforestation, reforestation, deforestation and forest management) following reporting guidelines under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change rather than the Kyoto Protocol. Due to data limitations, the study does not account for emissions from international aviation and shipping, or for forest carbon storage in harvested wood products. The study estimates regional industrial process emissions by scaling national industrial process emissions on the basis of population after adjusting them to remove major point sources.

Per capita emissions are calculated by dividing total emissions in an area by the population of that area. While this can provide a useful indicator for comparing areas as a whole, per capita emissions reflect the scope of economic activity in a given area and should not be presumed to represent the average emissions generated by the area’s individual residents.

4. What were the regional greenhouse gas emissions by source category in 2012/13?

The table below presents the regional emission breakdown by source. The graph below illustrates the relative contribution from each sector to regional gross emissions.

Source categoryEmissions 2012/13

(tCO2e)

% of total gross emissions% change since 2000/01
Stationary energy815,467

21.5

-12.7

Mobile energy

1,387,64836.6

4.5

Waste

199,026

5.2

-12.5

Industry

139,975

3.7

385.3

Agriculture (biological)

1,251,033

33.0

-9.9

Forestry-2,109,77155.6

-4.6

Gross emissions (excluding forestry)3,793,147

100.0

-2.9

Net emissions

(including forestry)

1,683,376

NA-0.7



5. What were the total regional emissions per person in 2012/13?

Emissions per personEmissions 2012/13

(tCO2e per person)

% change since 2000/01
Gross

(excluding forestry)

7.9

-13.2

Net

(including forestry)

3.5-12.5

6. How have emissions varied by district and by source category over time?




7. How have emissions varied by unit of regional GDP over the study period?




8. What are some of the causes of these trends?

A full assessment of regional emission drivers is beyond the scope of this study. Greenhouse gas emissions and forestry removals have been influenced by the interaction of a range of district, regional and central government policies as well as socioeconomic trends and broader factors such as weather, global energy prices and the global financial crisis.

Based on a high-level assessment, it is clear that a major regional emission driver over the period was the share of renewable generation on the national grid. This was supported by increased regional renewable generation, which in 2012/13 equated to over 14.5 percent of regional demand compared to 0.5 percent in 2000/01. Other contributors to regional emission reductions included a decline in regional electricity consumption, relatively stable overall consumption of road transport fuels (with a decrease in petrol nearly offsetting an increase in diesel), installation of landfill gas recovery systems, increased diversion of waste from landfills, changing waste water treatment systems from oxidation ponds and septic tanks to activated sludge treatment processes, and a decline in animal numbers in agricultural areas. Notable emission increases were observed in domestic aviation (based on regional activity) and industrial processes (based on national trends).

9. Why are two sets of regional data reported for electricity emissions?

Consistent with the GPC best-practice methodology, the inventory applies a national grid emission factor to calculate electricity emissions across the region. This is because the regional electricity system is integrated with the national grid. As a result, the impact of increasing local renewable generation gets reflected in the inventory only as one of many factors contributing to the national grid emission factor.

To help illustrate the relative impact of increasing local renewable generation, an alternative methodology was applied to calculate a regional electricity emission factor which is weighted to reflect the level of local renewable electricity generation as if all of it was consumed within the Wellington region.

Over the reporting period, electricity emissions decreased by 16 percent using a national electricity emission factor, and 27 percent using a regional electricity emission factor.

10. How do the results from the Wellington region compare to those in the national greenhouse gas inventory?

As noted in question #3 above, the inventory results for the Wellington region cannot be compared directly to those in New Zealand’s national inventory on either an absolute or per capita basis.

However, there is still some value in comparing relative emission profiles and trends. The emission profile of the Wellington region diverges somewhat from the national profile, since the region has relatively less industrial and agricultural production and different levels of forestry activity. The differences are more evident in the more urbanised districts.

The nearly 3 percent decline in regional gross emissions and stable trend in regional net emissions over the period 2000/01 to 2012/13 contrasts with the increasing trend in national emissions. Nationally, gross emissions increased by 5 percent and net emissions increased by 30 percent from 2000 to 2011.

11. What happens next with the inventory results?

Individual councils and researchers across the region will be able to use the information in the inventory to help with assessing the GHG implications of past and future decisions on policy and council operations. They will also be able to improve their understanding of how central government decisions impact on regional emissions and where further advocacy and collaboration involving central government may be needed to achieve regional emission reductions. Businesses and households will be able to use the information to improve their understanding of regional emission sources and identify opportunities to reduce their own emissions.

The next stage of work will be the preparation of illustrative regional emission projection scenarios for 2020. These are intended as information tools to assist in long-term planning, rather than as predictions or prescriptions for future outcomes.

12. How has Wellington City performed against its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets so far?

Wellington City established a series of targets to reduce its GHG emissions over time. The following table compares the targets against the inventory results. The table shows that both gross and net emissions have tracked above target levels during the period, but were below the base-year level as of 2012/13. In 2013, Wellington City Council released a new Wellington City Climate Change Action Plan identifying seven priority action areas for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The plan is available at: http://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/plans-policies-and-bylaws/policies/climate-change-action-plan-2013.

ScopeBase year2010

(2009/10)

2013

(2012/13)

2020

(2019/20)

2050

(2049/50)

Wellington City

targets

2001

(2000/01)

Stabilise

(0% increase)

-3%-30%-80%
Actual gross emissions excluding forestry

(t CO2e)

1,310,705

1,383,011

(5.5% increase)

1,301,739

(0.7% decrease)

Actual gross emissions including forestry

(t CO2e)

1,248,425

1,325,237

(6.2% increase)

1,243,802

(0.4% decrease)

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