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Smart squeeze on Capital’s emissions

9 April 2014

Smart squeeze on Capital’s emissions

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown welcomes the news today that Wellington City has continued a downward trend in its level of greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade, during a period of overall population and economic growth.

With a reduction of 0.7 percent since 2000/01, Wellington City’s emissions are heading in the right direction, highlighted by a reduction since 2005/06 of 20.5 percent (see graphs below).

“Increases in emissions historically mirrored growth in population and GDP, so this reduction is seen as an important step in decoupling emissions from growth,” says the Mayor.

“Increased public awareness of the impacts of climate change, technological improvements, a willingness to change behaviour and Council’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint produced a good reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions.

“Cities, countries and corporates all have a role to play in ensuring the world addresses very real climate change concerns. The challenge for Wellington and all cities is to grow the economy and grow the number of jobs while always moving to a low-carbon economy. This report gives us some assurance that we are heading in the right direction as a result of Council policies, private investment and social trends.

“I’m pleased to see all of the councils in the Wellington Region working collaboratively on the greenhouse gas inventory project, which bodes well for future projects that plan for climate impacts and help reduce emissions across the Region.”

Councillor David Lee, portfolio leader for Climate Change issues, says one of the key reasons for the downward trend in emissions is the “greening” of the national grid with more renewable generation coming on line.

“This means we’re producing less carbon emissions. Wellington can proudly put its hand-up and say it’s contributing to this very positive trend in the national grid.

“With the investment and commitment from Meridian Energy and a forward-thinking District Plan that encourages renewable energy, our world-class wind resource is being harnessed with Project West Wind already producing 142 MW of power and Mill Creek Project on the way.

“The reducing trend in petrol use is also very encouraging to see. Our compact city’s urban population is increasing with a steady stream of apartments finished or under-way in the inner-city or in walking distance to the inner-city.

“The data and trends from the GhG inventory are very encouraging. As a city we appear to be becoming more energy efficient and less emissions intensive per capita; the apparent decoupling of growth from GHG emissions supports our "Smart Capital" vision,” says Cr Lee.

Census figures recently released show Wellingtonians are moving to active modes of walking and cycling over the last seven years. Commuting by private car has dropped by around 3.5 percent from the 2006 census.

As part of its Climate Change Action Plan, Wellington City Council is also investing in projects that make a difference such as insulation projects targeting low-income households and the Schoolgen solar partnership for Wellington schools (in partnership with Genesis Energy). The Smart Energy Challenge, where community-led projects seek crowd-funding to be matched by the Council, was also recently launched.

Emissions from waste continue to trend downward, assisted by improvements to composting and recycling operations as well as methane conversion to electricity.

Council’s next challenge is to map out how it can achieve the ambition of reducing emissions 30 percent by 2020 from 2000/01 levels. Cities around the world have similar goals that reflect the IPCC recommendations.

“Given the recent IPCC report showing the huge cost of adapting to climate change, we still have much work to do and must continue to reduce our emissions with urgency,” says the Mayor.

“The Wellington City Council is looking for co-benefits for all the ways we can reduce emissions. Active modes are good for health and retail, insulation is good for comfort and health, and reforestation is good for biodiversity. Reducing our carbon footprint leads to better lifestyles and improves the city.”

WCC’s Climate Change Action Plan: http://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/plans-policies-and-bylaws/policies/climate-change-action-plan-2013

Wellington City Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2000-2013 (graph)

Table of emissions since 2000/01 for cities / districts and whole region:

Area/Unit2000/01 T CO2e2012/13 T CO2e% Change
Wellington City1,310,7051,301,739-0.70%
Upper Hutt184,159186,4281.20%
Wellington Region3,906,3243,793,147-2.90%


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