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Carbon neutral public service programme update

4 April 2008

Carbon neutral public service programme update

Agencies in the core public service today released their carbon emissions inventories and carbon reduction plans as the first step in New Zealand's internationally ground-breaking Carbon Neutral Public Service programme, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

"Responsibility for developing a more sustainable nation needs to be shared by everyone. That is why the Labour-led government, through its innovative Carbon Neutral Public Service programme, is leading by example – showing how emissions can be measured and the sorts of reduction plans or offset plans that businesses and other organisations can put in place to reduce their own carbon emissions," Trevor Mallard said.

The aim of the programme is for the six lead agencies (Ministry for the Environment, the Department of Conservation, the Ministry of Health, The Treasury, Inland Revenue, and the Ministry of Economic Development) to be carbon neutral by 2012 with the other 28 agencies being on the path to carbon neutrality by 2012.

"The first step in this innovative Carbon Neutral Public Service programme has been to calculate each department's emissions inventory – and agencies are releasing these emissions inventories and their carbon reduction plans today.

"This is a huge achievement to have calculated the carbon footprint of the 34 agencies in core public service, equivalent to 159,000 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) in 2006/07. We are not expecting carbon neutrality overnight – this inventory provides an excellent baseline from which to track and manage emissions and secure changes in behaviour as we build a pathway to long-term sustainability. Agencies will also be required to report on their emissions and reduction plans annually from now on.

"The 34 core government agencies have over 300 planned activities between them to reduce their emissions. It’s the many small actions that together achieve a big step towards achieving carbon neutrality," said Trevor Mallard.

Having recorded their carbon emissions, most of the 34 core government agencies have already finalised or are close to finalising their plans to reduce them. Reduction planning involves implementing a range of activities from installing waste recycling systems and buying energy-efficient vehicles to using recycled paper in photocopiers, and educating staff about sustainable practices.

For example, the Department of Conservation plans to reduce its emissions from energy use by replacing diesel generators at remote sites with renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. And The Treasury is working on more energy-efficient travel practices and computer equipment, and making greater use of videoconferencing for meetings.
Among its planned reduction activities, Inland Revenue is upgrading to new generation energy-efficient lighting and educating its drivers about maximising fuel efficiency.

To achieve carbon neutrality, the emissions that remain following reduction activities will be offset by investment in New Zealand-based offset projects, such as indigenous forest regeneration.

More information on the Carbon Neutral Public Service programme is at http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/sustainability/carbon-neutrality.html.

Individual government agencies’ emissions inventories and reduction plans can be found on their websites. The cabinet paper is available on www.mfe.govt.nz
For queries about individual agencies please contact the agency concerned.

Contact: Astrid Smeele (press secretary to Trevor Mallard) 04 4719080 or 021 2279080. Email:astrid.smeele@parliament.govt.nz

Background: Carbon Neutral Public Service programme
The Carbon Neutral Public Service is coordinated and administered by the Ministry for the Environment. It is part of the government's sustainability package of six initiatives. The other initiatives are household sustainability, waste minimisation and management, enhanced eco-verification, enhanced sustainable procurement and business partnerships for sustainability. It is leading the world in this area due to the number of public service agencies and range of emission sources that it covers.

The Carbon Neutral Public Service programme aims to demonstrate government leadership on sustainability by reducing government’s environmental impact. It aims for the six lead agencies (Ministry for the Environment, the Department of Conservation, the Ministry of Health, The Treasury, Inland Revenue, and the Ministry of Economic Development) to be carbon neutral by 2012 with the other 28 agencies being on the path to carbon neutrality by 2012.

The programme involves a three-step process.
1. Measuring the greenhouse gas emissions from the agency’s activities. These mostly come from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity or for transport.
2. Reducing those emissions.
3. Offsetting remaining emissions by undertaking projects to remove an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or prevent it being released.

All 34 agencies will complete an annual emissions inventory, develop an emissions reduction plan and implement the actions in their plans. They will report on this process to the Ministry for the Environment each year. The focus is on activities up to 2012, but agencies are expected to continue to be carbon neutral or keep progressing towards this goal beyond 2012.

The programme will use New Zealand-based projects to offset the greenhouse gas emissions that cannot be avoided after emissions reduction activities have taken place. The Ministry for the Environment will coordinate and fund the offsetting process for the six lead agencies and will recommend how offsetting projects should be funded and occur for the other 28 agencies.

ENDS

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